June 1, 2023
Taylor Fritz endured the ferocity of the French crowd and overcame his underdog opponent amid ugly scenes at Roland Garros.
Spectators cheered every Fritz fault. And when the umpire tried to silence them, the crowd produced a prolonged “sshhhh” of their own to try and put the American off even more.
At the moment of victory, a triumphant Taylor immediately put a forefinger to his own lips to send a clear message to the French Open audience.
He had let his tennis do the talking in some style. Now his tormentors finally had reason to fall silent.
But they didn’t. The crowd booed so loudly post-match that former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli couldn’t conduct her on-court interview properly.
Fritz looked into the stands and said: ‘I love you guys.’
It wasn’t clear whether he was acknowledging the small pockets of American supporters who were cheering him, or if he was being sarcastic towards the majority.
‘I’m sorry I actually can’t hear you,’ Fritz told Bartoli as the spectators jeered more loudly every time she tried to ask him a question.
Finally Taylor took control and said what he wanted to say. The sarcasm was cutting but also telling.
‘The crowd was so great, honestly, that they fired me up. They cheered so well for me that I wanted to make sure I won, you know?’
No way was the brave American going to lose this match after being subjected to such poor sportsmanship. The pantomime villain was simply determined to emerge as the winner.
He beat his lower-ranked French opponent Arthur Rinderknech 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. It was much tougher than the score-line suggested. And Taylor’s mental strength was extraordinary.
Taylor Fritz won’t be subjected to a reception as hostile as this at Wimbledon 2023 – even if he faces Andy Murray.
The All England Club simply wouldn’t tolerate scenes like this. Sporting patriotism is all very well. And it has created many magical moments at Wimbledon.
But the lack of sportsmanship at Roland Garros – both during and after this excellent match – took patriotism way too far.
Thankfully, there was no such ugliness as another American star, Coco Gauff won through 6-2, 6-3 against Julia Grabner.
Gauff now plays 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva in the next round – a fascinating battle of the youngsters.
Even before Coco came out, we thought we had seen an intensity of drama that would eclipse anything to come that evening.
Jannik Sinner had two match points against little-known German Daniel Altmaier in the fourth set of their contest. Still the Italian favourite lost.
Altmaier was in tears after he secured a 6-7 (0-7), 7-6 (9-7), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 victory in five hours and twenty-six minutes. It took five match points of his own before Daniel got over the line.
‘The emotions were crazy,’ he said later. ‘Tennis wouldn’t be the same without the fans.’
That’s very true. And Wimbledon loves passionate fans. But players must be respected by spectators at our Grand Slam.
Taylor Fritz and Coco Gauff will enjoy a wonderful welcome to Wimbledon 2023. This is the Grand Slam that truly loves Americans. History shows that. Come and see for yourself.
We can secure you some of the best seats in the house to make your dreams come true in lovely London.