When Taylor Fritz raced to a 5-0 lead in his Delray Beach Open semi-final against Mackenzie McDonald Saturday evening, it seemed the top seed would cruise into the championship clash. Instead, the match turned into a heavyweight battle under the lights.
Although it proved far from easy, Fritz found a way to claw past his good friend 6-3, 7-6(6) after one hour and 34 minutes. The No. 1 American will play Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic for the trophy.
“I feel really good. I said it after my last match: I’m just playing better and better each match since I’ve been here,” Fritz said. “I love the moment, I love competing in finals, so I know I’ll play a good game tomorrow.”
Fritz and McDonald are close friends, but this was their first ATP Head2Head meeting. Fritz flew out of the gate from the first ball, using his powerful game to impose his will on rallies and win the first five games.
“I just came out with a lot of energy. I was being really aggressive in the beginning. Any time I got some time for the ball to settle, I was ripping it," Fritz said. "And then it got a little closer, went down the break in the second. Maybe got away from that [game style] a little bit. In the end, just tried to get that back, continued being aggressive like I was in the beginning.”
When tournament emcee Jesse Levine, the former World No. 69, congratulated Fritz on reaching his 10th ATP Tour final, the American appeared surprised.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been in 10, but I guess I try to forget about the ones I lose,” Fritz said, cracking a smile. “So maybe that’s why.”
Fritz has won two of his three previous tour-level matches against Kecmanovic, including victories at Indian Wells and Miami last year. At Indian Wells, they battled in the quarter-finals before the American later claimed his first ATP Masters 1000 crown. His run in the California desert was documented on Netflix’s Break Point.
Kecmanovic was also made to work to reach his third ATP Tour final. But work the Serbian did, rallying past 2019 champion Radu Albot 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-2.
"I was a little bit nervous throughout the match," Kecmanovic said. "But luckily I was able to stay calm when it mattered, play good and I'm happy I was able to come through."
Kecmanovic and Albot were both seeking their 100th tour-level victory in the semi-final. Despite trailing by a break in the third set, it was Kecmanovic who was steadier in the crucial moments to triumph after two hours and 28 minutes.
"It feels awesome," the 23-year-old Kecmanovic said of reaching 100 wins. "It's crazy that I've been able to do that relatively quickly, so I'm pretty happy about that, proud. Hopefully I'll have a few more."
Kecmanovic secured his first ATP Tour title three years ago in Kitzbühel and reached another final in 2019 in Antalya.