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Tiafoe Lives For The Biggest Moment

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2019

Tiafoe Lives For The Biggest Moment

American will seek first Slam quarter-final against Dimitrov

One of the greatest difficulties for younger players is acclimatising to the big stage at the most important tournaments. Whether it’s a Grand Slam or an ATP Masters 1000 event, the pressure inevitably grows. It may take time for even the brightest talents to get used to that.

But not Frances Tiafoe. The American lives for that pressure. And Tiafoe showed that in his come-from-behind win against Italian veteran Andreas Seppi on Friday at the Australian Open, defeating the former World No. 18 in five sets to reach the fourth round.

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“I feel like I have a chance against anyone when I step on the court. I love playing in big stages. I always play well,” Tiafoe said. “Whether or not I get the win or not, it’s irrelevant. I always play a good match. I usually put myself in a position to win the match. Lately, I have been doing it since last year. Now I just kind of thrive for those moments, I want those moments.”

Tiafoe was down two sets to one against Seppi, and serving at 5-4 in the fourth set when he faced three consecutive break points. A wily veteran like Seppi could have broken right then and used the momentum to sprint to a four-set victory. But Tiafoe buckled down and battled through to earn the biggest result at a major in his career.

“That was a huge turning point for me. He breaks there, he can say he wins the match. That was a huge hold for me to extend the match,” Tiafoe said. “He makes you play a ton of balls. He’s so solid. He’s one hell of a player.”

The easy question is, how was Tiafoe able to maintain his composure and weave his way through that tough spot. How was he able to come from a set-and-a-break down against an in-form Kevin Anderson in the second round?

“I’m just taking it. I’m taking the game to the guys. I’m playing very aggressive, trying to put things in my terms,” Tiafoe said. “Also, I’m competing really well, staying in the rallies. Not bailing out. Going point-in, point-out.”

Tiafoe isn’t worrying about the pressure. He is embracing it. And you can see his passion during every match, letting out primal roars when winning big points, using fist pumps galore to stay positive while in tough spots. This is what Tiafoe loves to do.

“[I’m having] quite a lot of fun. Quite a lot of fun for me,” Tiafoe said after beating Seppi. “Definitely hurts, very tired right now. But, yeah, it’s unbelievable.”

Tiafoe is also garnering attention for his enthusiastic celebrations after his victories at Melbourne Park. In the past two rounds, the American has replicated celebrations made famous by basketball superstar LeBron James. The locker room is noticing, too, with Italian Fabio Fognini even giving him props.


“Guys are loving it,” Tiafoe said. “[It’ll] be interesting to see if guys want to try them. Just try to bring something in tennis. Obviously you guys know I’m a big basketball fan. Love the team celebrations. If I get a chance to do it on a big court, big situation, you’ve got to bring it up. It’s not pre-meditated. I don’t know what celebration I’m going to do. I got a lot of them that I know.”

There will certainly be something special in store should Tiafoe battle past 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round. Last year, in their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, Dimitrov needed a third-set tie-break to beat Tiafoe at the Rogers Cup.

“It should be good. We’re good friends,” Tiafoe said. “He’s going to come out obviously just competing like crazy. So am I. It’s a big match to get to the final eight. Obviously, he made the final eight last year, so he wants to get back there, start the year off well, get back to where he deserves to be, which is Top 5, in my opinion.”

The 2018 Delray Beach Open titlist isn’t fazed by that, though. In Tiafoe’s mind, this is his moment to shine.

“I’m not going to be an easy out for him.”

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Australian Open 2019: Roger Federer beats Taylor Fritz to reach fourth round

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2019
Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online from 19 January.

Roger Federer delivered a serving masterclass to sweep aside American Taylor Fritz and reach the Australian Open fourth round.

The defending champion won 6-2 7-5 6-2 under the roof on Rod Laver Arena at a rainy Melbourne Park.

The Swiss third seed, 37, is aiming to become the first man to win seven Australian Open titles.

Next up for him is Greek 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4.

Joining Federer in the next round is Czech former semi-finalist Tomas Berdych, who knocked out Argentine 16th seed Diego Schwartzman 5-7 6-3 7-5 6-4.

Unseeded Berdych, who beat Britain’s Kyle Edmund in the first round and has found his form after an injury-hit 2018, will play the winner of Friday’s match between world number two Rafael Nadal and Australian Alex de Minaur.

  • Nadal sees off Australian hope De Minaur
  • Sharapova knocks out champion Wozniacki
  • Teenager Anisimova beats seed Sabalenka

Federer serves up victory in style

The Swiss was in a ruthless mood from the start, breaking Fritz’s second and third service games on his way to a 5-1 lead.

But it was on his own serve where the 20-time Grand Slam champion dominated, with Fritz taking just two points on the Federer serve in the first set.

He sealed the set with an ace with just 20 minutes on the clock and carried on where he left off in the second with back-to-back holds to love.

But the 21-year-old American began to apply a bit more pressure on Federer’s serve midway through the second, taking him to deuce in the eighth game before losing his own serve three games later.

From there Federer served for the set, once again wrapping it up with an ace – the eighth of his 10.

Back-to-back breaks in the third sealed the fate of Fritz, who had shown glimpses of a promising future with his shot-making as well as an ability to laugh at himself when he fluffed an easy smash.

“I wanted to get out the blocks quickly as I knew of the threat and his possibilities on the serve,” said Federer, who was playing his 100th match on the Rod Laver Arena.

“The second set was tough. There were a few chances but he protected his serve well and it was close. We had some good points and it was fun. I wish him all the best for the future.”

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Cilic scrapes through into last 16

Sixth seed Marin Cilic saved two match points on his way to a five-set victory over 2009 semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco.

The Croat, beaten in last year’s final by Roger Federer, fought back from two sets down to win 4-6 3-6 6-1 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 in a match that lasted four hours 18 minutes and finished at 12.57am local time.

In the fourth set tiebreak Cilic saved one match point with a huge serve into the corner before Verdasco double faulted on the second match point, hitting the net cord with his second serve.

“It was definitely a tough tiebreak,” said Cilic. “It came down to one shot, or basically one decision. I was a little bit lucky on that net cord. I was just slightly luckier in those crucial moments.

“It was definitely a tough match, unbelievable.”

Murray conqueror Bautista Agut into another Grand Slam last 16

Cilic will next play Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Andy Murray in the first round in what may have been the Briton’s final match.

The Spaniard, seeded 22nd, knocked out 10th seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-4 7-5 6-4.

It is the fourth time Bautista Agut has made the fourth round of the Australian Open, but he has never made it past the last 16 in a Grand Slam, losing at that stage on 10 occasions.

Elsewhere, 2017 semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov also won, with the Bulgarian beating Italian Thomas Fabbiano 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-4.

Up next for Dimitrov is 20-year-old American Frances Tiafoe, who will be playing in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

Tiafoe eliminated fifth seed Kevin Anderson on Wednesday in round two and fought back from two sets to one down on Friday to defeat Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3.

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Bryan Bros Extend Unfathomable Streak At Australian Open

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2019

Bryan Bros Extend Unfathomable Streak At Australian Open

Top seeds Marach/Pavic eliminated

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan advanced to the third round of the Australian Open for the 18th consecutive year on Friday, battling past Adrian Mannarino and Andreas Mies 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in one hour and 56 minutes.

The feat is even more impressive because Bob Bryan, the left-handed of the twins, underwent hip surgery just more than five months ago. The pair’s last match together before this year came in the 2018 Madrid final, where Bob hurt his hip. It was unlikely to see the 40-year-old American back on the court so quickly, forget showing good form to reach the last 16 at the year’s first Grand Slam.

The Bryan brothers own the Open Era record of six doubles titles in Melbourne, with their most recent major victory coming at the 2014 US Open. Mike Bryan, however, triumphed at Wimbledon and the US Open last year with Jack Sock, before partnering Sock to the title at the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals.

Bryan/Bryan will next face Spaniards Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Pablo Carreno Busta, who beat wild cards Mao-Xin Gong and Ze Zhang 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The Bryan brothers defeated Garcia-Lopez/Carreno Busta in the 2017 Australian Open semi-finals in straight sets.

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The shock of the day came when defending champions Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic were ousted. Maximo Gonzalez and Nicolas Jarry defeated the top seeds 6-4, 6-4 in 73 minutes, and they did not face a break point in the match. The Argentine-Chilean duo reached the third round or better at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open last year. Gonzalez/Jarry will clash with Leonardo Mayer and Joao Sousa, who beat alternated Roberto Carballes Baena and Andrey Rublev 7-6(5), 6-3.

The elimination of Pavic/Marach means that there will be no repeat titlist in the doubles draw, with the last team to retain its trophy being the Bryan brothers, who won three consecutive titles at Melbourne Park from 2009-11.

The pair that won two years ago, Henri Kontinen and John Peers, played well to defeat brothers Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski 6-3, 6-4. The No. 12 seeds, who did not face break point, will face the winner of Steve Johnson/Denis Kudla and Radu Albot/Malek Jaziri.

Did You Know?
The Bryan brothers’ longest streak of reaching the third round at any other major was at Wimbledon, where they advanced at least that far every year from 2001-16.

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Teenager Anisimova upstages 11th seed Sabalenka

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2019

American 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova stunned 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets to reach the last 16 at the Australian Open.

The youngest competitor left in the draw won 6-3 6-2 to become the first player born in the 2000s to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

“This is an unreal feeling, I can’t believe that this is happening right now,” said the tournament debutant.

The world number 87 faces two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova next.

The Czech eighth seed, who won last week’s Sydney International, beat Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-1 6-4 in 68 minutes.

“I’m feeling pretty good on the court physically and my mindset’s good. I’m serving well too, which is important,” said Kvitova.

Meanwhile, American Danielle Collins, who overcame 14th seed Julia Goerges in the opening round, moved into round four with a 6-3 6-2 win over France’s 19th seed Caroline Garcia.

Next up for Collins will be 2016 champion and second seed Angelique Kerber, who thrashed Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell 6-1 6-0 in 58 minutes.

Former world number one Kerber, on her 31st birthday, was far too good for the 20-year-old, who had caused a shock in the second round when she defeated 29th seed Donna Vekic of Croatia.

  • Sharapova beats champion Wozniacki
  • Federer sweeps aside Fritz to advance

Anisimova ‘can’t believe’ she won

Anisimova’s only other two Grand Slam appearances at the French and US Opens ended in first-round exits.

The youngster used her power to unleash 21 blistering winners and an accurate first serve on Belarusian Sabalenka, who had been among those fancied to challenge for the title in Melbourne.

“I was expecting a really tough match, she’s a great player, so I really can’t believe I got through this round,” Anisimova said.

“I’m feeling really good out here, I played some great tennis.”

She becomes the youngest American to reach a Grand Slam fourth round since Serena Williams at the French Open in 1998, and the youngest in Melbourne since Jennifer Capriati in 1993.

Stephens comes through stiff test

Fifth seed Sloane Stephens was made to work hard in her third-round victory over Croatian 31st seed Petra Martic.

The American 2017 US Open champion carved out just one break point – which she converted after having been broken herself in the first set – in a 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) win.

She will face world number 44 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the last 16 after the Russian’s 6-0 6-3 victory over world number 31 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

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