ATP Miami: Phillip Kohlschreiber battles through rain delay to oust Taylor Fritz

Germany’s Phillip Kohlschreiber battled through two rain delays and a 5-2 deficit in the deciding set to oust American teenager Taylor Fritz, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(4), in the second round of the Miami Open.

Play was suspended on two separate occasions on Court 2 and the wily German displayed tremendous fighting spirit to book his spot in round three.

Little could separate the two players in the opening exchange, with Kohlschreiber grabbing the decisive break at the tail-end of the set. 

Fritz recovered impeccably, taking the second set in convincing style before breaking his German counterpart early in the third set before play was suspended for a little under an hour.

The American was coasting towards the next round when Kohlschreiber’s brief resistance turned into a revival as he forced a deciding set tie-break.

He will face either the Spaniard Rafael Nadal or the Israeli Dudi Sela in the third round.

Tight opening exchange

Playing in their first competitive meeting, there was little between both players during the opening games.

Fritz, who seems to enjoy the American hard court hard swing in spring, had saw off the Czech Adam Pavlasek in the previous round and was no stranger to a scalp on the Golden Swing.

Marin Cilic was upset by the 18-year-old at Indian Wells last week and Fritz was aiming for consecutive round three appearances at a Masters 1000 level.

The match was on serve throughout the opening four games with both players displaying their capacity to endure the longer rallies.

However, it was Kohlschreiber who struck the first blow, breaking the American after he had sent a looping volley just long.

The break wasn’t to last long, however, with Fritz levelling the opening set in the sixth game after the German’s concentration slipped.

Mother Nature intervened in the eleventh game of the set and, perhaps unfortunately for Fritz, when he was staring down the barrel of two break point.

The umpire Mohamed Luyani opted to keep the players on court and when play resumed at 15-40, Kohlschreiber struck before serving out the set.

The German has traditionally struggled in Miami (Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America)
The German has traditionally struggled in Miami (Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America)

Peaks and troughs

The German took only three games to strike in set two, but Fritz, much like the opening set, broke back almost instantaneously.

The errors were beginning to fly off of Kohlschreiber’s racket at 4-3, the American smelled blood.

Pushing his opponent from pillar to post, Fritz forced the German into a long forehand and served out the set.

Perhaps reeling from a dismal second set, the 18-year-old pounced on a vulnerable Kohlschreiber to break his opening service game in the deciding set.

Fritz consolidated for 2-1 before the rain intervened. This time, it was torrential and both players were forced to leave the court.

When play eventually resumed after a lengthy wait the writing seemed to be on the wall for the German.

Fritz continued to dominate on his serve and then struck for 5-2. Serving for the match, and with a boisterous partisan crowd behind him, he coughed up three break points and offered a glimmer of hope to Kohlschreiber.

At 5-4, he again netted a routine backhand at an inopportune time and the crowd gasped in shock.

A tie-break ensued and, despite trading breaks, it was the German who served for a place in the next round at 6-4.

He did not disappoint.