US TENNIS STAR TAYLOR FRITZ TELLS FRENCH OPPONENT TO 'HAVE A NICE FLIGHT HOME' IN AWKWARD EXCHANGE AFTER KNOCKING HIM OUT OF WIMBLEDON

It wasn't Taylor Fritz's second-round win over Arthur Rinderknech that dominated the talk at Wimbledon on Thursday, but rather the American's overwhelming victory in the post-match war of words.

After defeating the Frenchman 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, the 13th-seeded Fritz greeted his opponent at the net and told Rinderknech to 'have a nice flight home.'

So how, exactly, did this blatant disregard for All England Tennis Club decorum come about? As it turns out, Thursday's meeting was a rematch of a 2023 French Open contest that Fritz won in front of a rowdy partisan crowd. Rinderknech made a reference to that earlier matchup during the leadup to Thursday's meeting during a recent interview.

'The atmosphere will be calmer [than at Roland Garros in 2023] and he will cry a little less,' Rinderknech said earlier in the week, as quoted by L'Equipe's Quentin Moynet and translated on X. 'He was a little whiny. I have nothing against him, but if he expected the French public to give him kisses between points, it was a bad time.'

Fritz heard the quote and was displeased.

'I'm a very chill person. I don't do anything that could rub people the wrong way, so when someone kind of just goes out of their way to take a shot at me, then I'm not just going to take it,' said Fritz, who is from California. 'It gave me the extra fire to win.'

So when it was time for the post-match handshake Thursday, there were some words exchanged.

'I just said, 'Have a nice flight home,' Fritz recounted.

According to Fritz, Rinderknech responded by pointing out that he's still around in doubles.

'I said, 'Oh, congrats. Good for you,' Fritz continued.

'Then he started acting like, 'Why are you blah, blah, blah?' I'm like, 'Dude, you know what you said. You know what you said.'

'Don't disrespect me before the match and then expect me to be all nice after the match,' said Fritz, who will take on 24th-seeded Alejandro Tabilo of Chile on Saturday for a spot in the fourth round. 'That's not how it works.'

At Roland Garros last year, spectators booed and whistled at Fritz as he eliminated Rinderknech, who was the last French man in the field. 

During the customary winner's on-court interview that followed, more jeers rained down on Fritz, and 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli kept pausing her attempts to ask a question into her microphone. 

So Fritz again said, 'Shhhhh!' and put his finger toward his mouth, while Bartoli unsuccessfully tried to get the spectators to lower their decibel level.

More boos. More whistles.

And the awkwardness continued as both Bartoli and a stadium announcer kept saying, 'S'il vous plaît' — 'Please!' — to no avail, while Fritz stood there with his arms crossed.

A few U.S. supporters with signs and flags drew Fritz's attention from the front row, and he looked over and said to them, 'I love you guys.'

But the interview was still on hold.

Bartoli tried asking a question in English, which only served to draw more boos.

So Fritz told her he couldn't hear her. Bartoli moved closer and finally got out a query — but it didn't seem to matter what her words were.

Fritz, who has been featured on the Netflix docuseries about tennis called 'Break Point,' had his hands on his hips and a message on his mind — one reminiscent of Daniil Medvedev's contretemps with fans at the 2019 U.S. Open.

'I came out and the crowd was so great honestly. Like, the crowd was just so great,' Fritz said, as folks tried to drown out his voice. 'They cheered so well for me, I wanted to make sure that I won. Thanks, guys.'

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2024-07-05T12:49:39Z dg43tfdfdgfd