By Editorial Team
Frances Tiafoe has overcome obstacles his entire life, but his 2019 Australian Open run has been a classic for the ages. As the only US men’s player remaining in the AO, Frances has carried the American flag without hesitation and edged out each of his top seeded opponents round after round.
No one imaged Frances being able to defeat Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov consecutively in a major. What are the odds of that? Playing flawless tennis with little errors or weaknesses under the new coaching direction of Zack Evenden has lifted his confidence to another level.
In a tight match that could have gone either way, Frances was very well composed. Lightening fast in running down wide balls, terrific transitioning to the net, good serving and a much improved backhand were all clicking today for Frances as he defeated Grigor 7-5, 7-6, 6-7, 7-5.
Frances must now face Rafael Nadal tomorrow in the quarter finals and he will need everything and more to defeat the 17 time grand slam champion. The odds are heavily against Frances again in this match as a big underdog; 10/1.04 for a Tiafoe victory over Nadal. If fans continue betting on Frances they could stand to 10X their money, but the well may have run dry for him down the stretch as he must now overcome a well rested Rafa who seems to be at the top of his game.
Although these two have never played before, Frances believes that he can pull off another major upset and advance to his first grand slam semifinal. There is no fear, but excitement coming from Frances as he spoke on his pending Rafa match, “I’m so excited to play Rafa. We’re going to have some fun, going to have some long rallies. I hope I can play on Laver. That would be cool. I guess all the matches are on Laver now, right? Yes. Yeah, that’s just an honor playing on that court. Obviously playing Laver Cup a couple times. Getting to know Rod a little. Obviously he’ll be there. Playing arguably one of the greatest tennis players of all time, yeah. Just have some fun out there.”
Also during the recent post match interview Frances explained his current motivation, “I mean, yeah, it’s crazy, man. Obviously if you guys know anything about me, the story in tennis, I obviously wasn’t a normal tennis story. The beginning of my career, I was playing for them, trying to do everything for my family. Obviously now I put them in a great place. Now I’m trying to do it for me.”
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.
Healthy, Tsonga takes on Edmund in Morocco
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is up against top seed Kyle Edmund tomorrow in the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco.
Tsonga is having a good start to the season with the exception of an early qualifying loss in Miami. Playing on the red clay surface is definitely a new venture to Tsonga after being off seven months from competitive play.
After his first round win over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Tsonga commented on his form:
“It was my first match on clay in a while. So I’m happy that I won today. I did what I needed to do today and played well during the first set,” said Tsonga, whose last outdoor clay match came at 2017 Roland Garros. “It has been almost two years since I didn’t play on outdoor clay. It’s nice to be back on clay.”
Perhaps this is the biggest test for Tsonga since his recovery. A win tomorrow could definitely put the Tour on notice while improving his ranking just before going into the red clay stretch and grand slam season.
Keys wins 4th title in Charleston
By Editorial Team
Madison Keys was able to defeat the 5th seed Caroline Wozniacki 7-6, 6-3 today to win her 4th title and 1st tournament win in close to 2 years.
This win against top WTA Tour players is great for Madison’s confidence as she goes into the thick of the clay court season.
Red clay has not been that kind to Madison even after reaching the semifinals last year. 2019 could be the year for a grand slam title, but consistency and health will play a major role in that for Madison.
The first 3 months of this season have been dismal for Madison with little to show in term of wins, but at the Volvo Car Open – her favorite tournament – she was able to overcome major hurdles with big wins over Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki.
Volvo Car Open
“It means so much,” Keys stated in her post-match press conference. “I’ve always loved Charleston. It’s always been one of my favorite tournaments, so to now be able to say that I’ve won the tournament and be on the trophy is really, really special.”
“It’s definitely been a really great week for me, especially after having some really tough losses the last couple of weeks,” Keys continued. “And to be able to really bounce back and have a really good week of training with my coach, Nacho, and then be able to come and win the tournament, it definitely is a very good springboard for heading over to Europe.”
Is it Madison’s year? Fans will have to wait for the French Open and hope that a favorable draw propels her to the end of the second week.