Players: Taylor Fritz on night studies and pursuit of FIFA | ATP circuit
Taylor Fritz beat fifth seed Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday to reach the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. The American will face 10th seed Jannik Sinner on Wednesday for a place in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells.
ATPTour.com caught up with Fritz before the game to find out more about his passion for video games, how he plays on the road and more.
When do you remember starting to play video games?
I have always loved video games. My first video game was probably one of those Pokemon games on Gameboy when I was a kid. But then I think I really got into it when I found out that you can play online against other people. Just the idea of competing like that, I mean, that’s what I love so much about sport, competition.
When I was a kid it was the funniest thing for me to face someone else. So when I found out that I could go to Xbox with my friends and play Call of Duty at night against other people and talk [smack] for them doing it, it was really fun for me. So I think it probably happened around the sixth or seventh year.
I would come home from school every day and tell my parents I did my homework, go to Xbox with my friends, and play Call of Duty. I think that’s where it started for me, probably. We would do zombies, we would do multiplayer, we would do everything. I just think once I got to the point where I could actually play with people and against people, that’s when it really piqued my interest.
If you had to pick your three favorite games, which would they be?
It would be easier to say all the time. So at the top of the game I enjoyed it the most, probably the first two months of Fortnite’s release are pretty unbeatable. Just the friends who jump on it and everything. Then probably Call of Duty Black Ops 2 which I played a lot. I loved this game. And then, as a kid, I also played World of Warcraft a lot. I’d say it’s up there for me too.
When did it get more serious and not just having fun with friends?
I mean, it still is. It is what it is. I got better doing it a lot and just being the competitive person that I am. No matter what game I play, I always watch the best players play, I study what they are doing.
When I’m in bed to sleep I watch videos and the like to try and get that little extra that might make me better at gaming. I’ll do stuff like that and I’ve improved at some games by playing, learning and looking at. So it’s still just fun for me, but it’s just good that I can play in some of these events and compete with some good players.
What are you best at right now?
Probably Apex Legends, it’s a pretty popular game right now. I would say this is probably my best game at the moment. But the best I have ever been at a game was for sure FIFA. I got injured in 2016, 2017. It was FIFA 17 back then and I played this game so much when I got injured, I studied it so much and practiced it so much, I made it to the Top 100 in North America.
It was the first year that they had any rankings in FIFA, they had a ranking system, so I really got into that year because I was really motivated to try to get into the rankings.
Are you interested in football outside of FIFA, or do you just love video games?
FIFA helped me get into football. I love to watch football, it’s probably my second favorite sport to watch.
When did you start carrying things with you on the road?
It has changed a lot over the years. Now I’ve realized that the easiest way to do that is to just bring a gaming PC, plug in a controller, and then I have my screen, my console. Everything is together. It is very easy to do. Now there is cross play, so if you are on a computer you can play with people on PlayStation and Xbox.
A while ago you couldn’t do that, so I would bring a PlayStation so that I can keep playing with all of my friends. I put the PlayStation – it was a slim PlayStation – in my backpack, then put a 24-inch monitor, the screen, in my suitcase. So maybe I would put the monitor stand in my tennis bag. To be honest, it was pretty easy. Sounds like a lot, but it was pretty easy to bring it from week to week. But now it’s so easy, I just bring a gaming laptop, put it in my backpack and that’s it.
So it doesn’t even take long to set up?
It’s literally about pulling out a laptop and putting in a charger, maybe plugging in a mouse, plugging in a controller, but nothing crazy.
How does it help you move away from tennis a bit?
It really helps me not to get bored. Especially when last year we had a lot of tournaments where we couldn’t leave the hall, you were just killing time. In the weeks that we’re in a cool city and my friends are there, I won’t be releasing games much because I will have stuff to do.
It really helps if I’m bored. And obviously after workouts I’m tired so I don’t really want to go out and do stuff. It’s kind of something to do in the room that can be fun.
How much respect do you have for all these esports athletes?
A lot. I really like to watch electronic sports, I like to watch competitions. It’s amazing how good these guys are at a lot of these games, and they’re really working on it and I can’t imagine it’s even fun at this point when you’re doing it so much. People probably watch tennis and think, “Oh, this is so much fun”, but practicing four or five hours a day is no fun.
You do something so much, once it becomes a profession, you work so much at it, it’s not so much fun anymore (laughs). So these guys, I have a lot of respect for how hard they work to get so good at it.
You’ve joined an esports team. What can you tell me about this?
I’m just part of a company that has a Call of Duty league team, the London Ravens, then Rogue, which is a big esports organization in a lot of different games. They have the best team in Europe for League of Legends, which is currently the biggest esports in the world, so I’m excited to watch them. They’re at the world championships and it’s starting very soon, so I’m going to watch that.
Is it interesting to see from a business point of view, see all aspects of the whole esports business?
Yeah, that’s awesome. A lot of my friends back home in Los Angeles are people who are involved in the gaming industry, so I’m pretty attached to that. It’s been really cool meeting a lot of these people and understanding the ins and outs of the industry and that’s something that has always interested me.
What size do you have at home?
I have everything at home, it’s nice. That’s the only thing about traveling, I’ll be on the road and play on my laptop. It’s a smaller screen, not a good internet, it’s just not the same. It’s always nice to come home. I just have a desktop with a nice PC, a really solid PC, and two big screens. It’s really nice, I love coming home.
This is your video game corner …
Yes, I have a small playroom. I really want to improve it even more, but it’s a lot so I think I’m going to wait until I move again and then I’m really going to go.