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US Open: Frances Tiafoe, the tennis player who learned with his eyes, the threat to Carlos Alcaraz

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The American, who beat Nadal, will be the rival of Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinal of the US Open 2022

Frances Tiafoe surprises at the US OpenAFP
  • US OPEN 2022 Alcaraz saves a match point, beats Sinner in a great battle and play the semifinals

Frances Tiafoe started playing tennis with his eyes. His father worked in the maintenance service of a promising academy and he spent hours watching other children train from the fence. Then he grabbed the first racket he saw and repeated against a wall what he had seen. If any court was free, he practiced serving. Most of the time, with no one on the other side of the network. That cro will play this Friday the semifinals of the US Open contra Carlos Alcaraz.

In a sport that requires families to make a somewhat greater financial effort, his story is unusual. Tiafoe is the son of two migrants who met in USA fleeing civil war Sierra Leona, and soon they had twins, Frances y Franklin. The family settled in Maryland and the father found work building a tennis facility. His attitude pleased him so much that, when they finished, he was left in charge of maintenance. Ah this journey began.

Constantwhich was the father’s name before he was renamed Frances Tiafoe Sr. In honor of his son, he worked overtime to get a little more money. Enough that it would end up being more comfortable to move to an empty room in the facility. And like the mother, Alphinaworked as a night shift nurse, the twins lived there with their father five days a week.

“It was a fairly small room with two massage tables. My father slept in one and my brother and I, since we were little, fit in the other,” he explained. Tiafoe in a report ofAndscape’. The workers of the academy remember him sitting on a bench, so small that his legs did not yet reach the ground, absorbing the classes from the outside to repeat them later alone. Both twins liked tennis, but for Frances it was like a poison.

premature professional

Tiafoe he learned this way from the time he had enough arms to hold a racket, around the age of four, until he noticed him at eight Misha Kouznetsov, a Russian coach the academy had hired. Frances was not a student-they would never have been able to afford it-but Kouznetsov His desire and physical condition caught her attention and she began to work with him at times before and after his shift. When Frances made it to the pros, you could still see the traces of that unusual early education in a game that was less technically polished than usual.

Kouznetsov ended up assuming the sports tutelage of the boy, who with a more specific preparation became one of the greatest youthful promises of USApart of that explosion that in the space of eight months also gave birth to his friend Taylor Fritz, number 12 in the world; the gunboat Reilly Opelka (n. 28); o Tommy Paul (n. 34), executioner of alcaraz in the Masters 1.000 de Montreal. At 16 years old, Tiafoe I was rallying with Rafa Nadal in Roland Garros and disputing the preliminary phase of the US Open.

Tennis, which had started out as a path to a college scholarship and education that her parents couldn’t afford, became a career path. Tiafoe He soon began to stand out as a fast and powerful tennis player, sometimes wild, but ambitious. At the age of 20, he lifted his first (and only) title in Delray Beach, leaving his idol on the road, Juan Martin del Potro. And with just turned 21, he was planted in the quarterfinals of the Open the Australia ante Rafael Nadal.

Nadal as a measure

Against Nadal I was afraid. I had never seen myself there and he must have played a thousand times a quarterfinal in a tournament of Grand Slam“, he confessed Tiafoe time after losing against the Mallorcan in the 2019 Australian Open. The American recognized that in that tournament there was a moment when a tear escaped him when he thought about what he was achieving. He looked like the ultimate assault on the elite, but he still had a way to go.

Frances Tiafoe He has recognized that the break due to the pandemic was good for him to reset his career. That first great success was a flash, the measure of how far his potential reached; the stumbles that came later showed him the path that still lay ahead. His coach, the South African Wayne Ferreira, has come to say that Tiafoe he needed to learn to behave like a professional. Work and concentration inside the track; rest and meals outside of it.

The temptation is to blame these changes for their outstanding US Openbut the truth is that the Frances Tiafoe that has been seen since 2020, although with higher game peaks, irregularity has not been left behind. It is also the player who has only stepped on the quarterfinals a Masters 1,000 once in 32 participations, or that he has not lifted an ATP title since Delray Beach en 2018.

The problem for Carlos Alcaraz is that the Tiafoe what is being seen these two weeks in Flushing Meadows looks more like the one overflowing Rafael Nadal in the round of 16 than the one who was afraid of the Mallorcan in 2019.

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