By Jason Barron
Frances Tiafoe has had a tough couple months on the ATP Tour having lost 8 of his last 10 matches, with some of those losses coming against top players like Kei Nishikori, Kevin Anderson, Marin Cilic, and Borna Coric. Tiafoe is now playing in Paris at a Masters 1,000 Event and picked up his first win of the tournament against the tall Frenchman and great doubles player, Nicolas Mahut in straight sets 7-6 (7-1), 6-2. Tiafoe played a tight 1st set as Mahut was able to hold serve against a more aggressive and powerful opponent.
When Tiafoe gets his 1st serves in, he is awfully tough to beat, so it is imperative as he continues in his career to eliminate these serving errors to win more easy points. Tiafoe still won this match despite only having a 56% 1st serve percentage compared to 63% for Mahut. When Tiafoe did get a 1st serve in he won 85% of those points compared to 64% for Mahut, which is where the match was partly won and lost.
Tiafoe increased his level of play in the 1st set tiebreak with strong serving and great service returns on Mahut to win crucial points, to easily win the tiebreak 7-1. Throughout the match, especially in the tiebreak and the 2nd set, Tiafoe used his backhand to great effectiveness to break Mahut twice in the 2nd set. Tiafoe was also coming to the net well and played with more force and power than Mahut as the match progressed. Once Tiafoe got the second break he was able to serve it out and win the 2nd set 6-2.
The draw only gets harder for Tiafoe in the next round where he will face Alexander Zverev, currently the 5th ranked player. Zverev holds a 2-1 record against Tiafoe, with all 3 matches contested in 2017. Tiafoe last beat him in 3 sets at the Cincinnati Masters in their most recent match. Previously, Zverev knocked Tiafoe out of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Tiafoe will need to get high percentage of 1st serves in and look to take advantage of any errors Zverev commits. Tiafoe will also need to play to his backhand as he is really utilizing it well to win points, both offensively and defensively.
Zverev will look to have a great performance in Paris after getting upset in the Basel Semi-Finals by Marius Copil in 3 sets. Zverev missed out on the chance to play for the Title against Roger Federer, who went on to beat Copil in the Final. This could give Zverev extra motivation coming into his match against Tiafoe. Tiafoe will need to play some clean and powerful tennis in order to have a chance against Zverev. They will play on Wednesday, October 31st. Perhaps, Tiafoe can spook Zverev and pull off the upset on Halloween.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will also be competing in Paris as he continues his comeback from injury, with his 1st match coming against Milos Raonic. Perhaps the home crowd can help the Frenchman Tsonga in a tough matchup against Raonic. The match is scheduled for Tuesday, October 30th. For live coverage of the Paris Masters tune in to Tennis Channel.
Stephens and Keys raise the bar in Fed Cup playoff
By Editorial Team
The Fed Cup has come home for the US women’s team to the Alamo state with both Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys in the drivers’ seat.
After the early round defeat to Australia, Madison is anxious to redeem Team USA and position itself in the running for 2020. When asked about the status of the team and anticipation for the weekend, Keys stated,
“We’re playing to stay in World Group I. It’s obviously very important, We were all really bummed about the loss, and we’re looking to walk away with a win after this weekend.”
Chemistry is definitely in favor of the US team as the players and coaches are all very close off the court as friends, but against Switzerland its definitely a business trip.
Coming off a title win in Charleston, Madison is set to keep the momentum going full steam as she prepares to make a decent run toward the French Open later next month.
While title hopes are around the corner for Madison, Sloane is planning on regaining her rhythm and finding her strokes while she competes. Fans shouldn’t be surprised if Sloane goes deep in this year’s French Open as she is able to turn it around on a dime – noting last year’s final run in Paris.
Stable coaching appears to be Sloane’s biggest challenge now as she must find a suitable replacement after Fed Cup Captain, Kathy Rinaldi, has been filling in recently for Sly Black.
This Fed Cup match should a simple win for the deep high caliber of talent on the US team. Play is scheduled for April 20-21 in San Antonio, Texas with matches aired live on Tennis Channel.
Robin Montgomery advances to Easter Bowl Finals
By Editorial Team (Updated Results)
Robin Montgomery reached the finals of the Easter Bowl this year without losing a set. Her impressive play earned her a title match against the top seed and WTA Tour ranked 565, Emma Navarro tomorrow.
If the past is any predictor of the future, Robin should be able to squeeze her way into the finals this weekend. She would play the winner of Lea Ma and Emma Jackson.
The number one seed Tyra Black was easily defeated today 6-4, 7-6 by 16 year old Jackson so the draw is wide open for a big run into the final round. Robin would likely face Emma Navarro in the final assuming there are no further upsets.
The live feed of all the matches can be seen at http://www.easterbowl.com/
Could it be a “Felix-Tiafoe” Miami Open Final?
By Editorial Team
Felix Auger-Aliassime has taken the Miami tennis fans on a long ride over the last two weeks. Sprinting into the semifinals after rising through the qualifying rounds is no easy task for anyone. The mental and physical demands of the sport take a toll on even the most seasoned professionals on tour.
Felix has been able to weave his way through the draw nicely as he was able to take advantage of the softer segment of the draw. With that, defeating Borna Coric 7-6, 6-2 today definitely added legitimacy to his star status on theg ATP Tour. Coric has the reputation of not giving an inch on the court, so to defeat a solid baseliner on the slower conditions in Miami is a great feat unto itself.
Felix’s serve has been such a huge weapon for him during the Miami Open. He was able to win well over 75% of his service games with a staggering 87% first-serve percentage. In addition, big shots made early into the points allowed Felix to dominate the match as he became more free with his multi-faceted game.
With all the stokes and a masterful way of assembling points in an attacking fashion, Felix is a major factor on the ATP Tour and stands a real chance of clinching his first ATP Master 1000 title this weekend.
When asked about his role as superstar on the Tour and breakthroughs like here in Miami, Felix replied,
Miami Open postmatch press interview
“I think I have been dealing with this for the last couple of years, so I think in a way that’s why I am able now to have these kind of results, because this extra pressure, this attention that I gave maybe last year or the year before to the outcomes, to the medias, that’s a bit behind me now where I’m able really to stay in the present and really focus on what I have to do in the court, finding ways to win. That just keeps me going and just keeps me happy. “
The next opponent for Felix is the American defending champion, John Isner. John has also been able to levy his service talent and avoid the challenge of facing top seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
The keys for victory against Isner are high first-serve percentage, attacking the weaker backhand side of Isner and praying for that one break of serve that could put him out front in the set. Felix will definitely have chances to win the match; fans hope his fine execution continues as they anticipate a Felix vs. Tiafoe final.
Frances, on the other hand, has a much more difficult route to take as he must defeat a red hot Dennis Shapovalov tomorrow and then most likely follow that win up with a spectacular performance to defeat Roger Federer who’s hungry for his first title win of the year after coming off an unfortunate loss to Dominic Thiem in the BNP Open Final.
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