The American, who had never been beyond the fourth round in six previous appearances in South Florida, was dialled in from ball one inside Hard Rock Stadium. He combined fierce power with consistency to outlast World No. 8 Rune in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
Fritz drove the ball down the middle of the court to cut off angles for the Dane and stepped forward at crucial times, striking 19 winners throughout the 85-minute clash. He has now earned three straight-sets victories this fortnight, having also defeated Emilio Nava and Denis Shapovalov.
“I couldn’t play aggressively in my first two matches because my opponents were hitting every ball as hard as they could. [Rune] still crushes the ball but it was nice to feel I had some more time,” Fritz said. “The first two rounds, it was impossible to play my game, I just had to make balls. Today when I got the chance to be aggressive I was and I just wanted to serve well and try not to give him many free points.”
The World No. 10 holds a 20-5 record on the season, highlighted by his title run in Delray Beach. He will aim to reach his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final when he plays top seed Carlos Alcaraz or countryman Tommy Paul in the last eight.
Fritz arrived in Miami at No. 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after his Indian Wells title defence was ended at the quarter-final stage by Jannik Sinner. Having been at a career-high No. 5 earlier this month, the 25-year-old is on a mission to rise again and will climb to No. 6 if he lifts his second ATP Masters 1000 crown in South Florida.
“I think my average level of tennis is a lot higher,” Fritz said. “I don’t need to always show up and play my best and if I don’t play my best, that level is higher than it used to be. I feel I can come through and win a lot of matches.”
Rune, currently No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, earned victories against Marton Fucsovics and Diego Schwartzman on his debut in Miami. The three-time tour-level titlist struggled to find his best level at the crucial moments against Fritz, however, converting just one of his six break point opportunities.