Tennis-Holt stuns fellow American Fritz in Grand Slam main draw debut

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Qualifier Brandon Holt, the son of former two-time U.S. Open champion Tracy Austin, made a memorable Grand Slam main draw debut on Monday by staging an upset 6-7(3) 7-6(1) 6-3 6-4 win over fellow American 10th seed Taylor Fritz.

Ranked 303rd in the world, the 24-year-old Holt was awarded a qualifying wild card at Flushing Meadows and was making his Tour-level debut against Fritz, the highest-ranked American, at 12th.

Holt, who turned professional in 2020, was not even sure if he could continue playing tennis when he needed career-threatening surgery on his hand last year.

He did not play for the rest of 2021 and only returned to action at the feeder International Tennis Federation circuit in Cancun, Mexico, in January.

"I started the year ranked like 900-something after having an injury in my hand. I was out for like eight months. I basically had to start from scratch down there," Holt told reporters.

"I did well my first three tournaments back. I won all three of them in a row after a long time off, a lot of hard work recovering. Yeah, from there to here has been a very quick upward tick. Hopefully, I can keep it going."

For a place in the third round of the hardcourt Grand Slam, Holt will next play Argentine Pedro Cachin, who edged Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 6-4 6-3 5-7 1-6 7-6(10-6) in a final set tiebreaker.

Holt said he did not exactly remember the advice he received before the match from his mother, who won the U.S. Open in 1979 and 1981.

"I don't know what she said. Probably just 'go have fun'. The same stuff, 'enjoy it'," Holt added.

"And I did. I found myself in some difficult situations, maybe I didn't play quite as well as I could have in certain times, but then I played very well in other times.

"That's tennis. Things are going to be up and down. Sometimes it was down, sometimes it was up. At the end of the day, it fell my way so I couldn't be happier."

For Fritz, it was a heartbreaking defeat at his home major, more so after his Wimbledon quarter-final run when he went down to Rafa Nadal in a final-set tiebreaker.

"It sucks. I mean, feels awful," Fritz said.

"Been playing really well. Had really high hopes. I feel like an idiot for thinking that I could win this thing, win the U.S. Open. I can't go out and play a match like that. It sucks. I feel awful."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Robert Birsel)