US Open Tennis

‘Times are changing': Taylor Fritz confident in American men at US Open, recalls emotional moment with Roger Federer

Taylor Fritz explains exclusively to NBCU Local Sports why he's confident an American will win the U.S. Open in the near future

NBC Universal, Inc.

An American men's tennis player hasn't lifted a U.S. Open trophy since 2003 when Andy Roddick clinched the victory.

But top-ranked American Taylor Fritz is more than confident that times are about to change and the U.S. drought for a singles Grand Slam will end soon.

For the first time since 2004, the men's main draw featured five American seeds, including No. 9 Fritz, No. 10 Frances Tiafoe, No. 14 Tommy Paul, No. 28 Christopher Eubanks and No. 31 Sebastian Korda.

"We have one of the strongest fields of American tennis players we've had in a long time," Fritz told NBCU Local Sports in an exclusive interview. "So there's definitely an opportunity for [the Grand Slam drought] to end soon."

Fritz believes it has been difficult for the Americans to secure U.S. Open championships over the years due to tennis' "Big Three" -- a term coined for the game's legends Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who have a total of 65 combined Grand Slam singles titles.

Federer made his retirement from tennis official at the 2022 Laver Cup while Nadal remains sidelined with an injury. Out of the three, Djokovic is the only active player.

"We have had the best three tennis players of all time playing since then and none of those three happen to be American," Fritz said.

Fritz, who will face Czech's Jakub Menšík in the third round of the U.S. Open, says his goal is to win the entire tournament this year. As the top-seeded American, all eyes are on the 25-year-old, however, Fritz says he is handling the "pressure and expectations well."

"As the top American, there's no way around it, Frtiz admitted. "The U.S. Open is always going to be the most important tournament of the year so there will always be added pressure to perform at your home Slam and have big results."

How would Fritz celebrate the U.S. Open? In his own words, with an Ace Paloma -- a "fruity" tennis-inspired beverage he helped concoct through a partnership with Maestro Dobel Tequila.

'Emotional' retirement hug with Roger Federer

While one of the biggest highlights of Fritz's career was taking down Nadal to claim Indian Wells in 2022, he says another huge moment was witnessing Federer's retirement at the Laver Cup.

After Team World defeated Team Europe to capture the title, Fritz and his winning squad lined up to shake hands with the opposing team and tennis legend.

Fritz shared an emotional moment he had with Federer that night.

"I told him, 'Thank you for what you've done for the sport,'" Fritz said. "And that's the point I lost it. I started to cry -- everyone was crying -- it was pretty impossible not to."

While Federer's retirement was incredibly emotional for the players and fans who looked up to him, it was also somewhat relieving for the Americans looking to break through.

Fritz returns to action at Louis Armstrong Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. ET as he looks to book a spot in the U.S. Open fourth round.

Grown fan base from docuseries 'Break Point'

Frtiz was featured on Netflix's "Break Point", a docuseries created to give viewers an in-depth and personal look into the lives of the best pro tennis players in the world.

He said the biggest difference is that he is recognized more often when he is out and about -- something that didn't happen as much in the past.

"One thing that has been interesting is that more often when I'm out someone may recognize me, but not as the tennis player but as a star on the show," Fritz said. "It's something I've said a lot -- now that's one more person who might be a tennis fan that wasn't previously... that was my biggest hope for the series... to convert people to tennis."

Fritz, a father to one son, 6-year-old Jordan, was also highlighted in the docuseries. Although Jordan does not travel with Fritz to his matches, he does enjoy watching his dad on the big screen.

"He was really disappointed when he found out I wasn't the best player in the world," Fritz laughed.

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