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Fritz vs Caruana Next Gen ATP Finals live streaming, preview and tips - Fritz faces Italian wildcard for first Next Gen ATP Finals win

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 6 Nov 2018
  • Taylor Fritz vs Liam Caruana is live from Milan not before 3.00pm local time on Wednesday (2.00pm BST)
  • First career meeting between the pair
Taylor Fritz (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Taylor Fritz looks to bounce back from an opening defeat in Group B when he takes on Italian wildcard Liam Caruana in Milan at the Next Gen ATP Finals on Wednesday.

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Fourth seed Taylor Fritz will be targeting a dominant victory over eighth seed and local wildcard Liam Caruana on Wednesday as the American goes in search of his first win at the Next Gen ATP Finals.

Fritz was tasked with facing last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Andrey Rublev in his debut match in Milan on Tuesday, but despite taking a two-sets-to-one lead, he couldn’t close out the match as his Russian rival came back and emerged triumphant by a 4-2 1-4 3-4(4) 4-3(2) 4-2 scoreline. The defeat means Fritz must register a comprehensive victory over Caruana to keep pace with Alex de Minaur in Group B, with the Australian teenager crushing the World No. 622 4-1 4-1 4-2 in just 55 minutes to surge to the top of the group in the last match on Tuesday.

After making the final of the Memphis Open, reaching the quarter-finals in Acapulco and the second round of the Miami Masters, Fritz soared to No. 53 in the world during the first quarter of 2016. It was a monumental and sudden rise for the teenager, who was ranked 694 towards the end of 2015, with Fritz thrown into the same bracket of young players such as Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric and Hyeon Chung that were being talked about as future Grand Slam champions.

Fritz’s progress up the rankings stagnated for the rest of 2016 and for a lot of 2017 as he struggled to make the full-time transition to the ATP World Tour and play his best tennis outside of USA - and he also got married and became a father during this time - but he’s made his way back up the rankings in 2018, arriving in Milan at a career-high ranking of No. 47, reaching his second ATP World Tour semi-final in Houston, making the quarter-finals at Delray Beach and Lyon, along with advancing to the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time at the U.S. Open, where he went down to Dominic Thiem.

The American also reached the Round of 16 at a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time at Indian Wells and pushed Alexander Zverev to five sets in the second round of Wimbledon. Fritz has put together a solid month or so of tennis after the U.S. Open, progressing to his third ATP semi-final in Chengdu, qualifying for the Shanghai Masters and making the second round and reaching the quarter-finals of the ATP 500 Swiss Indoors in Basel to crack the top 50 for the first time.

Liam Caruana (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Caruana - who is just a few months younger than Fritz at 20 years of age - has struggled to work his way up the rankings in 2018 and has actually dropped almost 300 spots from his career-high mark of No. 375 that was earned in February of this year, coming into Milan ranked No. 622 in the world. Normally Caruana wouldn’t be anywhere close to qualification for the Next Gen ATP Finals, but the tournament awards a local wildcard to whoever wins a play-off meet, which the Italian promptly won last week.


Caruana was making decent progress up the rankings as he won his first Futures title in Decatur and made his maiden Challenger semi-final in Todi in 2017, along with making his ATP World Tour debut at the ASB Classic in Auckland at the start of 2018, beating No. 110 Blaz Kavcic in qualifying before earning himself a match against No. 46 Steve Johnson in the main draw, where he pushed the American all the way before falling 5-7 6-7(4). Born in Rome but residing in the United States, Caruana has only been able to win two more Challenger main draw matches for the season and hasn’t picked up another Futures title, although he did make the semi-finals of the F23 event in Egypt in his last event before Milan.

All in all, there is a big gulf in class between Fritz and Caruana as they prepare to face off on Wednesday. Fritz has been operating at a much higher level throughout their respective careers so far, and even though the nature of the Next Gen ATP Finals means Caruana will have a better chance of winning than in a regular tour-level match, I still expect the American to be far too strong and come away with a routine victory.


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Fritz vs Caruana Next Gen ATP Finals live streaming, preview and tips - Fritz faces Italian wildcard for first Next Gen ATP Finals win

Taylor Fritz looks to bounce back from an opening defeat in Group B when he takes on Italian wildcard Liam Caruana in Milan at the Next Gen ATP Finals on Wednesday.

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