Taylor Fritz will try to do something un-American at the BMW Open

Fritz might also be motivated by his current ranking.
Sebastian Widmann/GettyImages

Taylor Fritz might not ever reach No. 1 on the ATP tour, but he clearly takes offense when another player takes his place as the highest-ranked American. Fritz was recently overtaken by Ben Shelton but due to Fritz's run at the BMW Open, once the rankings are released on Monday, Fritz should move past Shelton again.

Fritz could even move up to No. 13 on the tour. The American's highest ranking ever, however, was No. 5 in February of 2023 so he is still a long way from that. Still, Fritz moves around the court well, has a good serve, and excellent groundstrokes. He is worthy of being a player consistently ranked in the top ten of the ATP.

To reach No. 13, though, Fritz needs to do something quite un-American. He needs to win a European tournament on a clay court. For example, no American won on European clay between 2010, when Sam Querrey won in Belgrade, to 2021, when Sebastian Korda won the Emilia-Romagna Open. Since Korda's victory, no American man has won a singles title on European clay.

Taylor Fritz is attempting to do what only two Americans have done since 2010

Shelton did win the Houston Open which is played on clay this year, but almost all of the top European players were not involved. Shelton defeated fellow American Frances Tiafoe in the final and Tiafoe has a losing record in his career on clay. Fritz has won a bit more than half his matches on clay and has never won a title on the surface so his appearance in the BMW Open final is somewhat shocking.

Still, Fritz's current run is likely fueled by the battle for the highest-ranked American as well as his drive to prove everyone wrong - including we here at Lob and Smash - and that he can actually win on a surface that is not grass or a hard court. His opponent in Sunday's final won't be an easy one. Fourth-seed Jan-Lennard Struff has not lost a set in the tournament.

Struff, however, might be more nervous than Taylor Fritz. Struff has never won an ATP tournament nor has he even been in a final. Fritz should have the upper hand as far as mental preparation. Since neither player has ever won a title on clay, anything can happen. This is especially true for American Fritz whose fellow countrymen have only won two titles on European clay in the last 14 years.

More tennis news and analysis