Having been forced to withdraw from last week’s Korea Open because he felt sick, Taylor Fritz spent seven days quarantining in a Seoul hotel bed but arrived in Tokyo full of vigour on Wednesday and barely had time to unpack before he was called to court to play Australia’s James Duckworth.
I felt, for whatever reason, confidence that I was going to be able to come out of the lockdown and strike the ball well Taylor Fritz
To his surprise the third seeded American emerged victorious with a 6-2 6-7(2) 6-1 scoreline and declaring that the match had been ‘better than I thought it would be’.
“I don’t feel amazing but I’m really happy that I was able to go through all that and still show up for my match,” Fritz said.
He also revealed that he had only been able to exercise on three days of his quarantine in Seoul but he proved to be more than fir enough to get the better of Duckworth despite a difficult second set.
“I felt, for whatever reason, confidence that I was going to be able to come out of the lockdown and strike the ball well,” Fritz added
“I was more concerned about the cardio and my condition after being really sick and not being able to do anything.”
Fritz plays Japanese Lucky Loser Hiroki Moriya who ousted compatriot Yuta Shimizu, a qualifier, earlier in the week.
Meanwhile Canada’s Denis Shapovalov beat American Steve Johnson 6-3 7-6(3) in his opening match.
Shapovalov lost to Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the final of last week’s Korea Open and he said the Wednesday start to his Tokyo campaign had helped him recover.
“I think the most important thing for me is to feel mentally fresh,” the world number 22 and seventh seed said.
“I feel mentally very motivated, and when you do lose in a final it almost motivates you a bit more than winning, to play the next week.”
Shapovalov conceded only one point on his first serve and struck 11 aces.
“[This was] definitely one of my best serving matches,” Shapovalov added. “I kind of felt like I needed to against Steve … I’m very happy with my serving performance today and hopefully I can keep it up throughout the week.”
The Canadian, who lost in the Tokyo semi-finals four years ago, will next take on Japanese qualifier Rio Noguchi for a place in the quarterfinals.
Frustratingly for Nishioka, he was unable to make a triumphant homecoming following his win in Korea as Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic was able to take advantage of his evident fatigue.
“I was playing good tennis but then I started to get tired and I think the fact I couldn’t close out the match in the second set was the reason I lost,” a disappointed Nishioka .explained.
In a second-round match-up earlier in the day, South Korea’s Kwon Soonwoo beat American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3 6-7(4) 6-2 and Spain’s Jaume Munar took out his countryman Pedro Martinez 4-6 6-3 6-1