Frances Tiafoe Turns A New Page In American Tennis And Looks To Inspire At US Open - UBITENNIS
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Frances Tiafoe Turns A New Page In American Tennis And Looks To Inspire At US Open

The American puts away Andrey Rublev in straight sets 76 76 64. After 16 years, the US public will be cheering for a home player in the men semifinals.

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Image via US Open Twitter

First point of the match. Tiafoe charged the net in the wake of a weighty forehand and Rublev passed him with a fleeting crosscourt forehand.

 

Rublev may have won the point, but Tiafoe would never refrain from his sparkling and relentless aggression. Even when he missed shots, or when he was outplayed, he never doubted, never recoiled. 

Such adamant determination deserved the greatest reward, a slam semifinal before his loving people, who have really played their part in getting the fire blazing.

“I just love playing in front of packed people. I love to show the world what I can do,” said Tiafoe. “Means a lot. I just want to go out there and try to give the crowd what they want, and that’s me getting the win. I really appreciate that. You know, that stuff gets me emotional, for sure. Seeing people like screaming your name, just loving what you’re doing. That’s awesome. That’s what it’s all about.”

But it’s not just about winning a tennis match. Frances Tiafoe is a man on a mission

“Every time I win, I just want to inspire a bunch of people to just know that you can — I mean, anything is possible. For me to do this and talk about how I feel about being in the US Open from my come-up is crazy. At the end of the day I love that because of Frances Tiafoe there is a lot of people of colour playing tennis. That’s obviously a goal for me. That’s why I’m out here trying pretty hard.” He explained during his press conference. 

Tiafoe’s coach Wayne Ferreira, a former No. 6 and quarterfinalist at the US Open in 1992, where he lost to local hero Michael Chang, joked about how much his player loves performing in New York.

We are trying to put in a request if we can play here every single week for the whole year,” he said after the match.
And about the tactics he added: “Playing against Andrey, he had to be aggressive, had to be even more aggressive. He had to really go after first serve. Andrey, today in particular, he had to attack second serves. It’s a very key strategy.”

Tiafoe indeed was continuously stepping in to hit the ball early with his backhand on Rublev’s soft spot, his second serve, and on any ball landing midcourtish. 

In the first set Rublev too stayed as close as possible to the baseline, eager to run around the ball and hammer forehands, with the ball still on the rise.

Neither player was threatened on serve until Rublev, struggling with his ball toss in the eleventh game ended up saving a break point with a brave backhand volley.

Rublev in turn rose to break point in the next game, which meant break point and set point. Tiafoe staved off danger with excellent serving and the tiebreak came as the fairest conclusion for a neck to neck set.

Tiafoe was much more daring in the tiebreak, which he took 7-3, sealing it with an ace. 

According to the scoreboard, the pattern of the second set resembled the first. Yet, Rublev had retreated, and was forgetting to attack on Tiafoe’s second serves, often rather meek, under 80mph. He kept relying on his opponent’s errors, rather than on his own initiative. 

This attitude eventually backfired, and when the clock once more chimed tiebreak time, Tiafoe’s dominance became incontrovertible. Ever aggressive with his backhand, after gaining a second minibreak with a glorious drop volley, he rushed off to a 7 0 knockout.

In the third game of the third set the American leaped on a second service of Rublev that was plodding at 76mph and soared to 15 -40. He failed to convert. But break was just deferred.

Serving at 3 all, Rublev netted a forehand and conceded another break point. Tiafoe was quick to move forward and although he didn’t come up with the best of volleys, Rublev wasn’t able to land a passing shot.

Rublev still had a last chance to crawl back into the match when Tiafoe served poorly and faced two break points. On the first Rublev mishit the return, then Tiafoe saved the second with a drop volley, one of the many he had crafted during the match and went on to hold. It was the final blow. Rublev held his own service, but could only be a motionless spectator when Tiafoe served the match out to love, stamping his victory with a final ace down the T. 

Ferreira agrees that Tiafoe’s success could have an impact far beyond tennis.  

“I think it’s a great message for anybody really that you can end up achieving greatness from where you are coming. Frances has been lucky in some ways of having great help from people along the way, he says . But, you know, yeah, it’s a great story. Hopefully there will be a movie about it one day. But he has to win the Grand Slam first. You only get movies if you do well.” He said.
“But his story is very unique, and it’s a great story. He’s very humbled, very great heart and kind. He’s truly special. If he can win this tournament, he can be an inspiration for a lot of kids.”

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Frances Tiafoe And Jack Sock Ready To Rain On Federer’s Parade At Laver Cup

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Frances Tiafoe describes his first match at this year’s Laver Cup as ‘iconic’ but he is determined to seal victory with doubles partner Jack Sock. 

 

Tiafoe, who reached the semi-finals of the US Open earlier this month, will feature in what will be the final match of Roger Federer’s illustrious career. The Swiss maestro has announced that the team competition will be the last event he will play before retiring from the sport at the age of 41. Federer will partner up with long-time rival Rafael Nadal in what promises to be an emotional encounter for all involved on Friday evening. 

“It’s going to be iconic to be part of that,” Tiafoe told reporters in London. “Both guys are absolute legends, and obviously Roger’s last dance. We are definitely just out there trying to get a win.”

Looking at the wider picture, Tiafoe knows a win in the doubles could prove vital in team World’s bid to win the Laver Cup for the first time in history. Whilst on paper his achievements are overshadowed by those he faces, his current form gives him the edge. Federer hasn’t played a match since Wimbledon last year due to a knee injury. Furthermore, Nadal is still trying to get back to his best shape following an abdominal injury and was beaten by Tiafoe at the US Open. 

“This is a special night. I just think me and Jack are just looking for a special night, come out there, have fun,” he continued. “The crowd is obviously going to be for them. You understand that kind of moment, and just go out there and do your part and just try to get a win. It’s going to be a special night tomorrow. I’m just happy I get the opportunity to do it with Jack.”

Sock, who has won three Grand Slam titles during his career, echoes Tiafoe’s desire to seal victory over the two tennis giants. 

“I’m just stoked to be a part of it with my guy Foe (Tiafoe),” he said. 
“We will go out and enjoy the moment, but not going to hold anything back. Sorry, Roger. Don’t want to spoil the night.”

Federer’s final match at The O2 Arena in London is set to take place in front of a sellout crowd. Following his retirement announcement, ticket sales for the three-day event have exploded. Ace Odds have reported a 4020% rise in demand for tickets with prices starting from £900. An extraordinary outcome considering the most expensive ticket for the Laver Cup was originally £510. 

The doubles match involving Federer, Nadal, Tiafoe and Sock is estimated to start around 20:20 BST on Friday. 

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