Wimbledon 2022 preview: Fritz v Nadal

 - Reem Abulleil

First-time quarter-finalist plots to halt Rafa's bid for the Grand Slam

Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon 2022, fourth round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

American No.11 seed Taylor Fritz will take on 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Here's a close look at the match-up, their shared history, and what the pair have said ahead of the contest.

A highly-anticipated rematch

Fritz was the player that snapped Nadal’s 20-match unbeaten start to the 2022 season, handing the Spaniard a straight-sets defeat in the Indian Wells final in March, to lift the maiden Masters 1000 trophy of his career.

The No.1 American is enjoying a breakthrough campaign, despite dealing with a foot injury during the spring, and is currently riding an eight-match winning streak on the grass entering his Wednesday quarter-final against Nadal.

Fritz picked up the third title of his career in Eastbourne on the eve of the Championships and is through to the last eight at a Grand Slam for the very first time.

The 24-year-old is ranked 14 in the world, just one off his career-high achieved in March, and is getting more and more comfortable with the big stage.

Rafael Nadal, Taylor Fritz, Indian Wells 2022, trophies© Antoine Couvercelle/FFT

“I've kind of been in these moments before, like, Indian Wells semi-final, Indian Wells final. I'd say probably it feels about the same as like a Slam quarter-final. Obviously three-out-of-five sets. I think it makes the occasion bigger if I am playing Nadal,” said Fritz on Monday.

“But I try to just approach it like how I did last time, treat it like any other match because I've been playing well. It's about kind of just replicating the way I've been playing and trusting that that will be enough.”

Nadal played that Indian Wells final against Fritz while carrying a rib stress fracture. The 36-year-old says he isn’t relying on any information on Fritz from that contest, but acknowledges the American is in great form at the moment.

“It's obvious he's playing at a very, very high level, having a great season, winning matches everywhere,” said the Mallorcan.

It runs in the family

This is Fritz’s sixth Wimbledon main draw appearance but his connection to the tournament was formed decades ago, before he was even born.

His mother Kathy May is a former top-10 player and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon back in 1977.

“The only thing I remember is someone was able to get like a video of my mom playing Billie Jean King here (in 1974). I don't know how they were able to get it from the tape to a CD copy of it. I think my mom was like 17 or 18 when she played the match. She got beat 1-1. That was kind of funny to watch, I think,” Fritz told reporters on Monday.

Taylor Fritz, Wimbledon 2022, fourth round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Tough build-up

Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, had not competed on grass in three years and had to go through special treatment for his chronic foot problem after winning Roland-Garros last month in order to make it to Wimbledon this year.

The Spaniard is on an 18-match winning streak at the majors, and is bidding for a calendar-year Grand Slam. But he’s also trying to adjust to the surface with no grass-court matches under his belt, and is taking things one day at a time.

“I did I think a big effort to be here. Takes a lot of mental and physical effort to try to play this tournament after the things that I went through the last couple of months,” said Nadal, referring to his foot injury that required drastic measures during his run to a 14th Roland-Garros crown.

“But as everybody knows, Wimbledon is a tournament that I like so much. Have been three years without playing here. I really wanted to be back. That's what I am doing. So that's why it means a lot for me to be in that quarter-finals, no?

“I think I have been improving in general terms, no? I started to feel that my ball is damaging more than the beginning of the tournament. I think I am, again, making the ball advance faster with my forehand, with my backhand. I think working well with the slice, too.”

Fritz also wasn’t sure he’d be able to do so well this grass campaign.

The Californian was out of action for five weeks during the clay season with a foot issue and said things only started to click for him against in Eastbourne.

“Three weeks ago, it was a low point for me. I kept telling myself that I'll find my tennis. I had to just kind of keep being positive. I was injured, coming back from injury, not playing great. I kind of just remained positive, stuck to, like, the process of working really hard, doing the right things,” he explained.

“Now it is crazy to go from where I was at maybe mentally after Queen's, like feeling injured, I've just lost like three matches in a row, to now I'm in my first Slam quarter-final.

“It's a big jump. It's so interesting. It's kind of like how tennis is. One, two good weeks, five or six good matches in a row, can kind of just change everything.”

Taylor Fritz, Eastbourne 2022, final, trophy©Getty Images for LTA


Nadal and Fritz are locked at 1-1 in previous meetings and will clash for the first time on grass.

There is gulf in experience between them with Nadal contesting his 47th Grand Slam quarter-final and eighth at Wimbledon, while Fritz will be playing his first.

Nadal is 57-12 lifetime at the All England Club, Fritz is 8-5.

Fritz is expecting a “really fun match” and believes Nadal will be extra motivated to get his revenge on him after Indian Wells.

Nadal has dropped two sets so far – one in each of his opening two rounds – while Fritz has yet to lose a set en route to the quarters.

The No.2 seed has spent 11 hours on court this fortnight, three and a half more than Fritz, who has efficiently navigated four rounds in 7hr 28min.

Fritz has dropped serve just five times – in 58 service games – and Nadal has been broken nine times in 67 service games.

In an attempt to shorten the points and be aggressive, Nadal has serve-and-volleyed 30 times at these Championships, winning 20 of those points, while Fritz hasn’t adopted that strategy at all so far.