Taylor Fritz withdraws from Brisbane International, enters Happy Valley Challenger
Fritz poses with his Happy Valley Challenger title (Photo: Tennis SA)

Taylor Fritz, the youngest player inside the top 100 at 76, has decided to forgo playing the Brisbane International. Instead, he will be playing the Happy Valley Challenger. Fritz was only one spot away from direct entry into the main draw at Brisbane but has instead chosen to defend his title.

Fritz was a breakout star in 2016, making the finals in Memphis as his true starring point (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Field

This year’s field includes some solid names for an ATP Challenger Tour tournament. World number 88 and fellow American Donald Young, Santiago Giraldo, Lukas Rosol, and Denis Kudla will all be joining Fritz in the city of Onkaparinga.

Defending His Crown

Last year, Fritz won the title as the eighth seed, defeating Dudi Sela in the final. Fritz was one of two Americans who were seeded; Bjorn Fratangelo was seeded second. It was not a tournament that was friendly to the seeds as six of the eight seeds were knocked out in the first round. The only two survivors of that were Sela and Fritz who went on to make the final.

Fritz started out with a quick win over Australian wildcard Marc Polmans in the opening round but ran into some trouble in the second round against fellow American Alexander Sarkissian. After taking the first set, Fritz was blanked in the second set tiebreak before rebounding to take the final set tiebreak 7-5. He took out another Australian wildcard in Alex Bolt for destroying qualifier, Andrew Whittington, in the semifinals 6-0, 6-2.

The final started out as a tight affair as Sela and Fritz went into an opening set tiebreak. The then 18-year-old was able to gut it out 7-6(7) before going on to take control of the match. He went on to take the match 7-6(7), 6-2, to claim his third Challenger title of his career while also denying Sela a historic 20th Challenger title of his career.