Frances Tiafoe, the chosen one
"Jesus ...!" Exclaims at every ball he misses. "Ohhhh ...!”, He regrets shortly after. Frances Tiafoe, the new and shining star of the American tennis, is the first of the great names of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell who has practiced on the courts of the RCT Barcelona. The 21-year-old from Maryland, with Sierra Leonean descent, today was very satisfied with his first hours in Barcelona: "I've seen very little, but what little I've seen has been very nice.” He also has words of praise on the state of the courts and, in general, of the Real Club Tenis Barcelona: "My first contact with the clay of Barcelona has been satisfactory. They are slow, they are very well taken care of ... They allow me to draw the tennis, something that I cannot do on hard court or in any another type of surface where everything happens too fast ".
He is ambitious: "I am in good form and, after reaching the quarterfinals in Australia and Miami, I do not set limits. Title? Yes, why not. That's my goal. I come to win". And he praises Rafa Nadal: "What can I say about him! That he keeps playing at his usual level after so many years is amazing”.
"Frances is the chosen one", exclaimed Patrick McEnroe four years ago when he saw how Tiafoe, the great hope of USA tennis to be a power in this sport, won at 15 years old the Orange Bowl. John McEnroe’s brother, then president of the tennis federation of that country, the USTA, was shocked by the way in which Frances achieved that victory that came to confirm the expectations that his mastery of the game had raised.
Over the years, Tiafoe has become an extraordinary reality immediately behind John Isner, the absolute dominator of the USA ranking in this decade, in the US tennis career ladder. Tiafoe, who this year has stepped into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and the Miami Open, one of the 1,000 most prominent Masters of the calendar, is already a regular in the top-30 since he managed to cross that barrier at the end of January of this year.
Tiafoe started playing tennis at 3 years old. His father, who was progressing with tenacity and effort and ended up being the maintenance director of a training centre in College Park, was the one who helped him and his twin brother Franklin to be interested in this sport.
In 2017 he stopped playing in the challengers tournaments (he took the titles of Aix-en-Provence and Sarasota) and joined the ATP circuit, winning a match at Wimbledon, against Robin Haase. The following year he won his first trophy in Delray Beach and finished the season in 39th place in the world ranking, 40 places better than 12 months before.
Fan of the Washington Wizards of the NBA, but admirer of LeBron James, whom he imitates with his unmistakable salute to the fans, Tiafoe is the genuine talent of the American sport called to succeed. Patrick McEnroe has already said it and this season is proving him right.
Tiafoe, who has never played in Spain as a professional, will be one of the four players from that country to participate in the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell but, above all, one of the many next gen that will turn this tournament into a mecca of the tennis of the future.