Long touted as a ‘next big thing’ in tennis, Frances Tiafoe stepped further into the spotlight in an electrifying first round battle with Roger Federer at the US Open. While the No.3 seeded Swiss eventually prevailed 4-6 6-2 6-1 1-6 6-4 Tiafoe’s big stage experience has further fueled his tennis ambitions. Achieving career-high rankings on 11 different occasions this season, the fast-rising Tiafoe peaked at world No.60 in July. At age 19, he’s currently the third youngest member of the ATP’s top 100.
The son of Frances Snr and Alphina, who are immigrants from Sierra Leone, Frances developed his game at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in Maryland. His father had helped build the facility and later became its Head of Maintenance. As children, he and twin brother Franklin would spend entire days with his father at the center and Frances took to the court at every opportunity. Development was quick for young Frances, who won the prestigious Orange Bowl at age 15 and earned a wildcard to compete in the 2015 French Open.
Growing up with the likes of Federer and Juan Martin del Potro as his idols, Tiafoe now competes alongside those players with a sense of belonging. Confidence from Challenger wins in Aix en Provence and Sarasota earlier in 2017 unquestionably added confidence and helped build the ranking to facilitate entry into higher-level tournaments. Possessing stunning athleticism and booming groundstrokes, Tiafoe’s biggest career win is over Alexander Zverev, ranked No.7 at the time, in Cincinnati. Nerveless on a big stage – “I always dreamed of being on a big court,” he said at the US Open – the teenager will look to the Laver Cup as another opportunity to build on his a flourishing career.
Winner: Aix en Provence, Sarasota (Challenger events)
R2: Wimbledon, Australian Open, Miami