INDIAN WELLS: Taylor Fritz began his title defence at Indian Wells with a hard-fought second-round victory over fellow American Ben Shelton, winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday.
Earlier this year, Fritz secured his fifth ATP Tour title at Delray Beach, a victory that propelled him to the fifth spot in the world rankings, making him the first American male tennis player to reach the top five since Andy Roddick achieved the feat in September 2009.
But he was on the back foot early against 41st-ranked Shelton, who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in January in his first trip outside the United States.
“He’s a really good player and I expected him to come out just serving balls, playing well — he has nothing to lose so I did expect him to come out with a very high level,” Fritz said.
“I just had to regroup, find a way to problem-solve. I’m happy to get through it.”
Fritz, a California native, overcame a foot injury last year to beat Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal in the Indian Wells final.
He went on to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon last year.
Seeded fourth in a field led by world number two Carlos Alcaraz, Fritz next faces either Australian qualifier Rinky Hijikata or Argentina’s Sebastian Baez, the 30th seed.