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Taylor Fritz ends Rafael Nadal’s 20-match win streak with win at Indian Wells

Hours from playing in the biggest final of his young career, Taylor Fritz was in severe pain. The prospect of having to withdraw versus Rafael Nadal nearly had him in tears.

His coach urged him not to risk potentially damaging his sore ankle further. Fritz stubbornly refused to bow out.

His faith in himself paid off. Fritz upset Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (5) Sunday to win the BNP Paribas Open and snap the 21-time major champion’s 20-match winning streak this year.

“It was a complete nonissue, didn’t feel it at all, didn’t hinder me at all,” said Fritz, who tweaked his ankle late in his semifinal victory over No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev.

Blue medical tape could be seen above his high sock and he had it numbed before the final. Nadal had his own health issue. He came into the match bothered by painful breathing that he first experienced in a three-set semifinal win.

He took two medical timeouts during the final. The first one came after he lost the first set. Nadal went inside with a trainer after tapping his upper left chest. He received treatment on court after falling behind 5-4 in the second set.

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“When I try to breathe, it’s painful and it’s very uncomfortable. It’s like a needle all the time inside. I get dizzy a little bit because it’s painful. It’s a kind of pain that limit me a lot,” said Nadal, who turns 36 in June.

“The thing that worries me now, it’s about what’s going on there, what I have to do now to recover and how long it’s going to take.”

Nadal’s 20-0 start to the year included the Australian Open, his 21st major championship that broke a tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. He also won titles in Melbourne and Acapulco.

“Of course, the last two months have been amazing, unforgettable, very emotional,” Nadal said. “I enjoy things that I never thought I could live again a few months ago.”

Fritz didn’t waste any time in attacking Nadal, racing to a 5-1 lead in the first set with two breaks. Nadal got a break back in closing to 5-3, but his backhand error gave Fritz another break and the set.

“It’s an honor to even be on the same court as this guy,” Fritz told the crowd. “I grew up watching this guy win everything.”

Nadal fought off a match point on his serve with a forehand winner to tie the second set 5-all. He had two break points on Fritz’s serve in the next game, but the American held for a 6-5 lead. Nadal held to force the tiebreaker.

Nadal sent two straight forehands well wide to set up Fritz’s second match point.

Another Nadal error sent Fritz to the biggest victory of his career not far from where he grew up near San Diego. Fritz’s parents, Guy Fritz and Kathy May, are former tour players.

“He told me that I was going to win this tournament one day when I was a little kid,” Fritz said. “It was pretty tough not being emotional with my parents, especially my dad. He was just really, really proud of me. It’s really tough to get a compliment out of him.”

Fritz dropped his racket and collapsed on his back after clinching the title on his second match point. He got up smiling with a look of disbelief on his face. He became the first American man to win Indian Wells since Andre Agassi in 2001.

“I just kept telling myself there’s no reason why I can’t win this,” Fritz said.

Fritz is projected to rise from No. 20 to a career-high 13th in Monday’s ATP Tour rankings and will become the top-ranked American player. Nadal moves up to No. 3.

Nadal had already decided to skip next week’s tournament in Miami and head home to Spain to prepare for the French Open, which starts May 22.

Fritz is scheduled for a MRI on his ankle Monday and isn’t sure whether he’ll be able to play in Miami.

The Miami Open started on Monday. Daniil Medvedev is among the notables who are playing on the men’s side, as well as Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini. Hubert Hurkacz won the event last year.

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Daniil Medvedev rolls to win at Indian Wells in his first match since reaching No. 1 in men’s tennis rankings; Rafael Nadal survives

Daniil Medvedev defeated Tomas Machac 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open, the Russian’s first tournament since ascending to No. 1 in the world.

Medvedev made quick work of his Czech adversary, finishing Machac off in just over an hour. The Russian won 80% of his first-serve points and saved the lone break point he faced.

Rafael Nadal didn’t have it as easy in opening his pursuit of a fourth title at Indian Wells. He got pushed to the limit by practice partner Sebastian Korda before winning 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (3), giving Nadal a 16-0 record this year.

“I started to play a little bit more crosscourt with my forehand and with having a little bit more of calm,” Nadal said. “He made a couple mistakes and I was able to save myself.”

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Nadal won the Australian Open in January for his record 21st major championship, breaking a tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. He gained other titles in Melbourne and in Mexico.

Nadal trailed 5-2 in the third set before winning four straight games with two breaks of Korda to take a 6-5 lead. Korda held at 6-all to force the tiebreaker. The 38th-ranked Korda led 3-2 and then Nadal reeled off five straight points to close out the 2 1/2-hour match.

“He’s one of the greatest players of all time. He’s super hot. Hasn’t lost a match this year,” Korda said. “To kind of push him to the edge was awesome. Shows a lot of my game, how dangerous it can be against tough opponents.”

Before the match, Nadal withdrew from the Miami Open, which starts March 21. He is managing a chronic condition in his left foot.

Earlier this week, Medvedev received a trophy commemorating his status atop the ATP Tour rankings.

He displaced Djokovic, who wasn’t allowed to enter the U.S. to play because he’s not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Medvedev has to reach the quarterfinals in the desert to stay in the top spot.

“If I’m going to lose it because I’m either going to play a bad match or my opponent is going to play an amazing one, there is the next tournament in Miami,” he said. “That’s how tennis is, every week is a new story. Right now it’s Indian Wells week and I want to make it a good story.”

Medvedev is among players from Russia and Belarus competing at Indian Wells without flags, symbols or anthems as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The decision to eliminate their national identity was made by the International Tennis Federation and both tours. “It’s definitely not for me to decide,” Medvedev said. “I follow the rules. I want to play my favorite sport.”

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Daniil Medvedev reaches round of 16; Karolina Pliskova upset in 2 sets on windy day at Indian Wells

Top-seeded Daniil Medvedev defeated Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 7-6 (1) to reach the round of 16 on a gusty Monday night at the BNP Paribas Open. Karolina Pliskova, the women’s top seed, was upset by Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 7-5.

Medvedev, the US Open champion, connected on 70% of his first serves and fired four aces despite challenging weather conditions.

Haddad Maia got into the main draw as a lucky loser. She lost in the final round of qualifying and got in when No. 29 seed Nadia Podoroska withdrew with a thigh injury. Haddad Maia inherited Podoroska’s first-round bye and then beat Mayar Sherif in the second round.

Ranked 115th, the Brazilian reached the round of 16 at a WTA 1000 event for the first time.

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On a windy day at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Pliskova held serve to tie the second set 5-5, but she got broken eight times in the match.

Haddad Maia held and then broke Pliskova in the final game to wrap up her second career win over a Top-5 player.

No. 15 Coco Gauff lost to 21st-seeded Paula Badosa 6-2, 6-2 in a match that was briefly suspended by rain on a night of wild weather in the desert.

No. 10 Angelique Kerber defeated 20th-seeded Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. No. 12 Ons Jabeur defeat Danielle Collins 6-1, 6-3 for her Tour-leading 46th match win of the year.

No. 16 seed Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 champion, lost to 18th-seeded Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (5), 6-3.

On the men’s side, No. 6 Casper Ruud outlasted Lloyd Harris 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4. No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz and 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman advanced. No. 16 Reilly Opelka lost to 23rd-ranked Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-4.

No. 9 Denis Shapovalov was beaten by 19th-seeded Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-2.

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Sloane Stephens survives to oust Heather Watson in 3 sets at Indian Wells

Sloane Stephens outlasted Heather Watson 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-1 on Wednesday in her opening match at the BNP Paribas Open.

Stephens gained seven of 18 break points. She raced to a 5-0 lead in the third set before Watson held, then served out the win. Watson had seven aces and seven double faults on the hard courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Stephens advanced to a second-round match versus fellow American Jessica Pegula. American Shelby Rogers, who upset top-ranked Ash Barty in the third round of the U.S. Open, was set to play Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in a night match.

Americans Madison Brengle, Madison Keys and qualifier Alycia Parks also played later.

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Men’s main draw play starts Thursday.

Three-time major champion Andy Murray and four-time major champion Kim Clijsters received wild cards into the event. U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu and runner-up Leylah Fernandez are entered.

Electronic Hawkeye cameras, previously in use at the tournament, will handle line calls for every match. Chair umpires and ball kids will be on hand.

The combined ATP and WTA tournament is missing some of the sport’s biggest names, including men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Barty. Also out on men’s side are Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The women’s draw is missing Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams. Second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka stated she tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in the desert and is in isolation.

The tournament was moved from its usual March date because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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