Having earned a spot in the player field based on his ranking, World No. 50 Taylor Fritz may not be playing for a wild card into the 2019 BNP Paribas Open, he’s playing to defend his title. Fritz, 21, has four ATP Challenger Tour titles to his name, including the one he earned at the 2018 Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach event. “I’m excited come back and defend my title,” says Fritz. “I think that I’m playing even better now than when I won here last year.” An understatement, to be sure, Fritz experienced a true breakout year leading into 2019 and comes to Newport Beach after reaching the third round of the Australian Open where he lost to none other than Roger Federer.
While not Rod Laver Arena, Court 1 at the Newport Beach Tennis Club was buzzing as defending champion Fritz eliminated Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in three sets: 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Next up for the 2018 winner is Frenchman Enzo Coucaud who beat Barbadian Darian King in three sets: 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. Coucaud, who also participated in the Oracle Challenger Series Houston event last November, looks to add to the one ATP Challenger Tour title he has to his name: Cassis 2018. This will be the first on court meeting for World No. 279 Coucaud and Fritz.
American Donald Young keeps his Road to Indian Wells wild card hopes alive on the other side of the draw. At 29-years-old and having spent significant time in the top 50, current World No. 231 sees the Oracle Challenger Series events as a way to get back on court at the BNP Paribas Open.”I’ve played Indian Wells quite often but with my current ranking I wouldn’t get in,” explains Young. “It’d be nice, you know? But I’m focused on one match at time.” Up next for Young is World No. 196, Brayden Schnur. The Canadian eliminated three Americans on his way to the semifinals, including number 2 seed Mackenzie McDonald. Today he eliminated Jason Jung of Taipei and continues on his quest for his first ATP Challenger Tour final.