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Tiafoe defeats Mahut in 1st round of Paris Masters

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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.

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Monfils and Tiafoe take center stage at AO

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By Jason Barron

Frances Tiafoe will have a tough task ahead of him playing in the Australian Open against Kevin Anderson. They played each other 3 times in 2018, with Anderson winning all 3. But, Tiafoe did take a set off him twice before. This will be the first best of 5 match that they have played, and a longer match could favor Tiafoe if he can outlast Anderson. Tiafoe has competed well against the 6th ranked Anderson in the past and should believe he has a chance going into the match.

The key will be to cut off the angles and attack on 2nd serves. Tiafoe can’t give Anderson a lot of time and space to whip in his serves or powerful groundstrokes. Tiafoe needs to make Anderson uncomfortable by moving him around the court and having him come to the net. If Tiafoe can utilize his speed and hit the corners he could counter Anderson’s big serves with superior all-around play. This would be a huge win for Tiafoe and get him get off to a great start in 2019.  

Gael Monfils will face Taylor Fritz in his 2nd match at the Australian Open. They have never played each other, but Monfils should get the win. Monfils has the advantage in experience, ability, and court movement. Fritz is a better server and could possibly overpower Monfils in rallies. Monfils will need to dictate the points and use his court movement to take advantage of a slower Fritz. Monfils has shown the ability in the past to beat big servers like Kevin Anderson and John Isner.

Fritz is a level below those players and Monfils should be able to take advantage and make him uncomfortable. If Monfils does beat Fritz he would likely face Roger Federer in his next match. That will be a monumental task to overcome, but it is sure to be an entertaining match with the creativity of both Monfils and Federer on display.

Both the Tiafoe-Anderson and Monfils-Fritz matches will be played on Tuesday, January 15th. Tune in on ESPN for continuing coverage of the Australian Open.

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Eubanks, King and Brown in AO Quali Finals

ATP Tour

by Editorial Team

Chris Eubanks was able to pass the young sensation, Felix Auger-Aliassime, in straight sets today to now face Pedro Martinez in the Australian Open final round of qualifying. Chris is now a favorite to make the main draw with his huge serve and improved backhand. It is obvious that practice time in the off-season has paid off for Chris as he continues to boast wins against his top 100 opponents.

“Marathon Man” Darian King refuses to go away after a disappointing 2018 season where he was not able to make a main draw appearance in the grand slams. Tomorrow he will have his chance to extend his stay in Australia while collecting a big check with a win over tough competitor Viktor Troicki of Serbia. This will be a tall order for Darian, but he should be up to the task with two 3-setters under his belt already. The momentum from the Baghdatis win should spill over into this final qualifying match to propel Darian forward into the main draw.

Dustin Brown has not had it easy either, but by looks of it he appears to back on his game. With new sponsorship from Head rackets and Hydrogen apparel, Dustin has recommitted himself to the sport and is now making a major push to reach the AO main draw with a possible win over the South African and 11th seed, Lloyd Harris tomorrow.

All matches can be seen on Tennis Channel and TennisChannel.com

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Naomi Osaka vs. Destanee Aiava | 2019 Brisbane International Second Round | WTA Highlights

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