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Fritz to become youngest player in Top 100

MEMPHIS, TN - FEBRUARY 14: Taylor Fritz of the United States returns a shot to Kei Nishikori of Japan during their singles final match on Day 7 of the Memphis Open at the Racquet Club of Memphis on February 14, 2016 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
February 24, 2016 10:37 AM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

American teen Taylor Fritz is putting the tennis world on notice that the next generation of future stars are ready to make their mark on the game.

With his win over world No. 30 Jeremy Chardy in the first round of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel tournament in Apapulco, Mexico, on Tuesday evening, Fritz is guaranteed to break into the Top 100 for the first time when the new world rankings are released next week.

“It’s amazing,” Fritz told ATPWorldTour.com after the victory. “I’ve wanted to be a tennis player my whole life. Being in the Top 100 puts things in perspective. I’m here and I only want to keep going up. This is a huge milestone for me.”

The California native will be the youngest of four teenagers ranked inside the Top 100, joining world No. 38 Borna Coric of Croatia and world No. 66 Hyeon Chung of South Korea – both 19 years old – and 18-year-old German Alexander Zverev, who was born six months before Fritz.

But while Zverev, ranked No. 56, has played in the main draw of 28 ATP events since his debut three years ago, he has never been past the semifinal stage. By contrast, Fritz played in his first ATP World Tour-level main draw in June and became the youngest American man to reach an ATP singles final in 27 years (Michael Chang, 1989) when he reached the final of the Memphis Open earlier this month in just his third tournament.

On Tuesday, Fritz withstood a dozen aces from Frenchman Chardy and created 12 break-point opportunities in upsetting the 29-year-old, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Fritz will face Victor Estrella Burgos in the second round, with a potential rematch against Memphis Open champion Kei Nishikori awaiting in Round 3.

The win over Chardy is Fritz’s second Top-30 victory in two weeks. Last week, the teenager defeated countryman Steve Johnson, ranked No. 29, in Memphis.

"It feels amazing to have that consistency," Fritz said, "to show I didn’t just do it that one time, to come back and do it again."

Fritz needed to come through two qualifying rounds to even make it into the 32-player main draw in Acapulco. Now he’s almost ranked high enough to be guaranteed of a spot in any tournament he enters. At his current perch, Fritz, who was ranked No. 1,151 at the start of 2015, should earn direct entry into the French Open in May.

Fritz was not the only American to cause upsets in the opening round in Mexico, however. Qualifier Ryan Harrison toppled No. 3 seed and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Other Americans remaining in the Acapulco draw are last week's Delray Beach Open champion, Sam Querrey, and Donald Young.


Editor's note: After reaching the quarterfinals, Fritz rose to No. 81 in the ATP rankings.