Taylor Fritz already has one title on an American hard-court this season. Now he is one win away from a second at the Atlanta Open. The Delray Beach champion defeated countryman J.J. Wolf 6-3, 7-5 on Saturday at the ATP 250 to advance to his 11th tour-level final.
"It was really solid. I served well the whole match," said Fritz, who saved both break points against him. "Whenever I was in trouble I played a lot of good points. I just did what I was supposed to do and didn't really give him much."
Both players thrilled the crowd with power tennis, with both eager to take the initiative in points with first-strike tennis. But on a hot day in Atlanta, it was Fritz's consistency and his performance on the big points that made the difference.
With a win in his first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with Wolf, Fritz improved to 17-9 against Top 50 players this season. He will bid for his sixth ATP Tour title — and his fourth on hard courts — on Sunday against first-time tour-level finalist Aleksandar Vukic.
Regardless of the opponent, Fritz will be counting on the backing of the American fans to help him over the line.
"It's been great having all the support this week," he said during his on-court interview. "It's so hot, so it's such a good effort for all these people to come out and support, even in this heat. So I appreciate all the love and I hope we'll bring it in the final."
Vukic continued his breakout run with a 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 upset of seventh seed Ugo Humbert. Playing in his first ATP Tour semi-final, the Australian caught fire after ripping a crucial return winner at 0-1 in the second-set tie-break — a rocket that sparked a run of five straight points.
"I was getting totally outplayed. He was destroying me and I kind of just relaxed and went for it," Vukic said post-match.
"I was down 0/1, a mini-break in that tie-break and just kind of went for the return and felt the momentum, felt the crowd and just kind of used it. I broke in the first game of the third and had a little hiccup but recovered, and I couldn't be happier."
Vukic, a former college star at the University of Illinous, finished with 34 winners, including 17 aces. He found himself down 4-5 in the final set, but powered through the last three games with the loss of just two points, capping off the win with a statement hold at love.
The 27-year-old underdog was fuelled by the Atlanta crowd during his comeback. He's expecting another raucous atmosphere in the final against the home favourite Fritz.
"It's going to be a tough match for sure. He's a hell of a player, Top 10 in the world and the U.S. No. 1 player," Vukic said. "I just need to serve well and return well and play like I did in the second and third set. I think anything's possible in this environment."
Humbert was denied his fourth final and what would have been his first since Halle in 2021. He has won all three of his previous finals.