Frances Tiafoe: ‘We genuinely want to see each other do well.’

Frances Tiafoe
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At Indian Wells, the American men won the ATP Masters 1000 with John Isner winning Miami in 2018. But that was four years ago. Then Taylor Fritz won it this year, upsetting Rafa Nadal in the fin

Now they are in Miami, and some of the Americans believe they are moving up. Frances Tiafoe, who just won two matches in Florida, is one of the so-called kids are now more mature and better overall.

Tiafoe believes that it is time to fly.

“I think it’s been interesting. Like, I mean, Fritz, we’re kind of the first guys to break top 100,” he said. “Fritz made final of a 250 when we were super young. I made quarterfinal of Australia really young. Top 30, 20 years old, 21 years old. Reilly [Opelka] kind of figured out, Reilly breaks through, Tommy [Paul] starts to break through. You have [Sebastian Korda], these guys.


“I think seeing guys that you grew up with doing well, you’re like, ‘Well, fuck, this guy can do it. Shit, I grew up with him. I’ve beaten him how many times. Why not?’ But it’s all good. We genuinely want to see each other do well. It’s good. And then also finally there is a little opening in tennis. The big guys don’t play every Masters, for example, this one. Big guys, you know what I mean, the big three [like Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer].


“So there is a little space for guys. I mean, there was a while there where you go deep in an event, and you run into Rafa and them, I’m probably going home. But now guys can win it.”
 
Maybe all of them can win it, this year. But as Tiafoe said, there is a huge difference to win a Grand Slam when it is three out of five, not two out of three. Combined, Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic have won 60 Slams. The current U.S. players have won nothing — yet.

Eventually, those three will retire. The good news is that Tiafoe is now more consistent, and his forehand has is more forceful. He also thinks a lot during the match. Not all the time, but the 24 year old can more tactful. But the 31 ranking is totally realistic.

“It’s crazy. I was playing end of last year still injured, to be honest. Just poppin’ pills, kind of masking my pain in my elbow,” he said. “I was playing so well, I can’t stop. Then I got a late call to Davis Cup [in late November]. Had a bothered Achilles, elbow. The offseason I didn’t have time at all. Started the season. I mean, honestly, I don’t really count Australia, my team told me not to go. I still wanted to go, me being stubborn. Coming back, much more fit, looking good, arm is healthy.


“Beat Brandon [Nakashima] pretty convincingly last week. Lost to Andrey [Rublev] who was on a stupid match-winning streak. I thought I actually played all right. Not to where I know I can play, but I thought I still put a decent performance.

Here, able to win a couple rounds, thanks to Matteo Berrettini for opening that up for me a little bit (he was smiling). Any win right now counts. It’s still early in the year. I count my year as fine right now.”

NOTES

Jenson Brooksby won the match over Roberto Bautista Agut. He was down 0-4 in the third set and he just kept chugging. He will face against the No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, and to win it, he is going to have to really mix it up because the Russian will play forever.

Andy Murray lost pretty quickly in straight sets to Medvedev, who showed his defensive skills.

‘He makes a lot of returns back from where he stands. That’s a big strength of his,” Murray said. “You know, even from back there he’s very successful.”

Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz has now won 13 matches and just two losses. The teenager is incredibly talented. He actually has a chance to win Miami. He ousted Stefanos Tsitsipas in straights, 7-5, 6-3.

There is a piece I did about Nick Kyrgios, and at least this year, he has decided to practice and play as much as he can. He didn’t do that last year, but know he is feeling good. Here is the piece. https://www.tennis.com/news/articles/nick-kyrgios-credits-fitness-and-improved-mentality-with-sunshine-surge

Still, he totally melted down in his quarterfinal loss to Jannik Sinner 7-6(3), 6-3. The Aussie racked up code violations leading to a game penalty in the opening game of the second set.

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