Japan Open 2022 final: Taylor Fritz vs Frances Tiafoe preview, head-to-head, prediction, odds and pick

Fritz Soars Into Tokyo Final: Canada’s Shapovalov sees dominant Japan Open run end in semifinal loss to Fritz

Japan Open 2022 final: Taylor Fritz vs Frances Tiafoe preview, head-to-head, prediction, odds and pick. Taylor Fritz thought he would have to miss the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships after testing positive for COVID-19 in Seoul, where he had to quarantine for one week. But after arriving just in time for his Tokyo opener on Wednesday, the American has made the most of his opportunity by reaching the final at the ATP 500.

Japan Open 2022 final

The odds were once again stacked against Fritz against Denis Shapovalov in the Saturday’s semi-finals, but the American battled back from 1-3 down in the deciding set to secure a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3 victory and advance to his third ATP Tour final of the season.

“It’s pretty amazing what I’ve been able to accomplish this week,” said Fritz, who benefitted from the withdrawal of Nick Kyrgios prior to their quarter-final matchup. “Just from thinking that I might not even be able to play this tournament to then seven days in a room, wake up at 5 a.m., take a flight here and just show up and play… It’s pretty crazy how quick things happen. It was only four days ago.”

Japan Open 2022 final: Taylor Fritz vs Frances Tiafoe preview, head-to-head, prediction, odds and pick

Adding to the achievement, Fritz also clinched what will be his Top 10 debut in next week’s edition of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

In an exhibition of first-strike tennis from both men in the Ariake Colosseum, the American was in control early behind his big serve and forehand. After saving a break point in his opening service game, he claimed the first set then broke for 3-2 in the second before Shapovalov fashioned an immediate reply.

The Canadian was fearless in winning a dramatic tie-break to force a third set. After seeing a Fritz passing shot clip the line to erase a mini-break and knot the score at 4/4, Shapovalov ventured forward again on each of the next two points and was rewarded for his bravery. He then claimed the set by moving Fritz from corner to corner in a tense rally that was one of the longest of the match.

Japan Open 2022 final

Gesturing to the crowd after sealing the set, Shapovalov then rode his momentum to a 3-1 lead in the decider.

But a love hold helped Fritz rediscover his best form, as he rattled off the final five games of the match to set up an all-American final against his Laver Cup teammate Frances Tiafoe. The standout stat of the semi-final was Fritz’s 82 per cent win rate (47/57) on first serve.

Japan Open 2022 final: Taylor Fritz vs Frances Tiafoe preview, head-to-head, prediction, odds and pick All three of his victories this week have come in three sets, with Fritz also winning the first and third sets against James Duckworth and Japan’s Hiroki Moriya. After initially saying he was concerned with his fitness after falling ill and spending a week in lockdown, Fritz was presented with a new challenge in adapting to the “extremely fast” conditions on the stadium court.

“Honestly, physically I’ve felt fine all week,” he said after reaching the final. “I think the biggest struggle for me this week has been the court speed.”

Japan Open 2022 final

Due to persistent rain in Tokyo, Fritz was only able to practise on the venue’s indoor courts. But he was able to hit on the show court on Friday evening after receiving a walkover from Kyrgios, and again early Saturday afternoon.

“I felt like that made a really big difference with my confidence and my feel hitting the ball,” he said.

Fritz’s victory set up the first all-American final in Tokyo since Pete Sampras defeated Richey Renenerg in 1996, in what was the fourth straight all-U.S. final at the event. By winning his third Tokyo title, Sampras completed a five-year run of American champions that also included two triumphs for Jim Courier.

Fritz holds a 4-1 ATP Head2Head series lead against Tiafoe, who advanced to the final with a 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 victory against Soonwoo Kwon earlier on Saturday.

Japan Open 2022 final

Denis Shapovalov’s run at the Japan Open came to a close Saturday after a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 3-6 semifinal loss at the hands of Taylor Fritz.

The 26-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont. native, who was coming off a final appearance at the Korean Open last weekend, was yet to lose a set in Tokyo.

Shapovalov fired eight aces to Fritz’s six but only broke on two out of seven opportunities. The American was 4-of-6 on break point chances.

Fritz, who spent a week in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 in Seoul last week, fought back in the decisive set after trailing 3-1 to earn the victory.
His victory ensured he will make his top 10 debut in next week’s rankings.

It will be Fritz’s third final this year, having won the other two at Indian Wells and Eastbourne.

In the other semifinal, Tiafoe added a little more sparkle to his already glittering season by beating South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo 6-2 0-6 6-4.

The American, who reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the U.S. Open in September, reached his second title-decider of the season despite a poor second set in his victory.

“It was a weird match, but happy to get through,” said the 24-year-old. “In these kind of matches … it’s not always gonna be pretty, it’s not always gonna be your best stuff, but a win is what matters.”
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Kwon looked nervous at times in the opener and struggled to handle Tiafoe’s deft mix of accuracy, touch and power as the American rattled off five games in a row before claiming the set 6-2. But the South Korean then swept the second set 6-0.

Japan Open 2022 final: Taylor Fritz vs Frances Tiafoe preview, head-to-head, prediction, odds and pick Fourth-seeded Tiafoe upped the ante in the third, winning the two break points he needed to serve for the match at 5-2, only to stumble once more.

The American sealed the win at the second time of asking with a cross-court forehand.

Japan Open 2022 final: Taylor Fritz vs Frances Tiafoe preview, head-to-head, prediction, odds and pick

Djokovic into Astana final
Novak Djokovic survived a second-set tiebreaker in the Astana Open semifinals and shortly after his opponent Daniil Medvedev retired with a leg injury on Saturday.

Djokovic advanced at 4-6, 7-6 (6). He will play third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.

“I really hope that his injury is nothing too serious,” Djokovic said. “I know Daniil, he’s a great guy, he’s a fighter, he’s a big competitor. . . . He told me that he pulled an adductor muscle in his leg.

Japan Open 2022 final: Taylor Fritz vs Frances Tiafoe preview, head-to-head, prediction, odds and pick

“It was such a close match, particularly in the second set. I would probably say he was a better player on the court in both sets. I was fighting and trying to find a way. I found a way to win the second, but I’m just sad for the tournament and for these people who were enjoying the battle, and for Daniil that it had to end this way.”

Going in to the match, Medvedev had a 4-6 win-loss record against Djokovic, and they hadn’t met since last November in the Paris final, where Djokovic won in three sets.

In the other semifinal, Tsitsipas rallied to beat fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Rublev won the first set after saving three break points. Tsitsipas broke in the 10th game of the second to level the set score. He was more aggressive the longer the match went, and far more decisive than Rublev in the decider.

“My mentality kind of changed,” Tsitsipas said. “I played with more of an aggressive game style and didn’t have anything by luck. I was conscious of every single decision I was trying to follow and execute and those service games worked out pretty well. They kept me in the game and gave me that hope.”

He will be going for his third title of the year, after Monte Carlo and Mallorca, in his sixth final of the season.



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