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Kyrgios Cools Foki, Sets Fritz Clash In Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2022

Kyrgios Cools Foki, Sets Fritz Clash In Cincinnati

Australian improves record for the season to 31-8 with opening win at ATP Masters 1000 event

Another week, another strong start for Nick Kyrgios in 2022.

The Australian improved his record in first-round matches this year to 11-0 with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Tuesday.

Kyrgios, who reached his sole ATP Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati in 2017, struggled for consistency at times during his 90-minute win, but he was clinical in converting three of four break points during his maiden ATP Head2Head clash against Davidovich Fokina.

“He’s a tricky player, he’s so talented, he’s got so many shots at his disposal,” said Kyrgios after the match. “So I knew that I just had to serve well and then dictate as much as I can. His backhand is incredible. It was a tricky match.”

Kyrgios had enjoyed a nine-match winning streak prior to his defeat last week to Hubert Hurkacz in the Montreal quarter-finals. The Australian was happy to immediately return to winning ways, despite having to make some adjustments in his first match in Cincinnati since 2019.

“The conditions are a lot different here to Montreal,” said Kyrgios. “It’s more lively, harder to hit the ball in, but I responded well and returned well today. Hopefully I can keep it going.”

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After clinching the sole break of the first set in the 11th game to move ahead, Kyrgios looked to have all the momentum as he broke again in the first game of the second set. The Australian’s focus was tested as the resilient Davidovich Fokina immediately struck back for 1-1, but Kyrgios responded with a high-quality return game that included some searing hitting from deep.

“You just have to continue to keep pushing and keep trying,” said Kyrgios of his reaction after dropping his serve. “I didn’t feel the best physically, a bit worn out with everything, but I just mentally played the big points well. I got broken back, but I used that energy to push returns in and then force another break. It’s not easy out here, so I’m happy with that.”

The 27-year-old Kyrgios lifted his seventh ATP Tour title in Washington nine days ago. The Australian did not lose his serve once that week in the U.S. capital, and he will face another player with a big delivery in the second round in Cincinnati: 11th seed Taylor Fritz. The American cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 first-round win against Sebastian Baez.

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Birthday Battle! Sinner Holds Off Kokkinakis In Cincinnati Epic

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2022

Birthday Battle! Sinner Holds Off Kokkinakis In Cincinnati Epic

Italian to face Montreal champ Carreno Busta or Kecmanovic in second round

Working overtime on your 21st birthday? It was all worth it for Jannik Sinner.

The Italian was made to dig deep by Thanasi Kokkinakis in the pair’s first-round match at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Tuesday, but the 10th seed ultimately prevailed 6-7(9), 6-4, 7-6(6) in a marathon three-hour, 15-minute encounter.

“I love to play tennis and doing the thing that you love on your birthday is the best thing you can do,” said Sinner after the match. “Obviously today was a happy ending, so I’m very happy about that.”

Sinner fired 43 winners, 30 of them from his forehand wing, while Kokkinakis struck 35 of his own as their maiden tour-level meeting proved to be an engrossing one. Sinner appeared to have the momentum after twice breaking Kokkinakis’ serve to claim the second set, but the World No. 12 needed a deciding-set tie-break to clinch the win and book a second-round meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta or Miomir Kecmanovic at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

“In the beginning I was not playing so well or feeling the ball so well,” said Sinner. “I tried to be a little bit more aggressive, which I had to do because Thanasi is a very attacking player. Let’s take the positives out of this match, and hopefully in the next round I can play also at a higher level.”

Sinner’s attempts to stay on the front foot are reflected in the INSIGHTS In Attack statistics for the match. The Italian played 29 per cent of his shots from attacking positions, five per cent more than Kokkinakis and six per cent more than the ATP Tour average.

Sinner Kokkinakis Cincinnati 2022 Tuesday INSIGHTS In Attack

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After showing consistent form in 2022, Sinner lifted his first trophy of the year with an impressive championship match win against Carlos Alcaraz in Umag in late July. A six-time tour-level champion, the Italian is chasing his maiden Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati, where he reached the second round on tournament debut a year ago.

With the win, Sinner improved to a 37-10 record for the season. The 21-year-old is seeking a strong run in Cincinnati to boost his chances of qualifying for November’s Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. Sinner currently sits 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

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There was no first-round success for another #NextGenATP Italian, Lorenzo Musetti, in Cincinnati. Borna Coric, a quarter-finalist in 2016, defeated the Hamburg champion Musetti 7-6(2), 6-3 in the pair’s maiden tour-level meeting to set a second-round clash against second seed Rafael Nadal.

Fabio Fognini did succeed in joining his countryman Sinner in the second round, however. The 35-year-old downed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-3, and he will next face sixth seed Andrey Rublev.

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Fritz, Opelka & Paul; Dorm Mates Flourishing On Tour

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2022

Fritz, Opelka & Paul; Dorm Mates Flourishing On Tour

The trio trained together in the sunshine state when they were teenagers

As the North American hard-court swing continues to heat up this week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, some of the country’s biggest stars will be looking to build on their recent success on home soil.

Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul currently sit inside the Top 35 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and are part of a wider group of 13 players from the United States who are currently in the Top 100. While the relationships between many of those in the American contingent are strong, the bond Fritz, Opelka and Paul hold is extra special.

When the trio were teenagers, they trained together at the USTA base in Florida. It provided them the opportunity to work on their games, while crucially also allowing them to develop and build the foundations of friendships that remain stronger today than ever. Opelka remembers their junior days well.

“We first met when we were around 13 years old and we have been training together since then and we started hanging out then, so the relationships naturally formed,” Opelka told “At that age, it is an interesting time. We had a weird setup because we didn’t have any parents around.

“It was us three living together, so we didn’t have as much direction. It was like a free for all. There are not many guys aged 13 who have this massive freedom and could do what we had. This is kind of what we had when we were living in the dorms.”

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After arriving at the USTA centre in Florida from San Diego, Fritz quickly clicked with Opelka and Paul, who had already known each other for a year.

“The first time I actually met them was when I went to USTA when I was like 15 years old and we lived together in Boca,” Fritz said. “I feel like that really brings people together, because there is not much to do after tennis. We all just were kind of hanging out, killing time together and we got on straight away. We just have become really good friends since then.”


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From trips down to the beach to hours spent on the basketball court, the trio enjoyed life as they balanced competing on the ITF Junior Circuit with an array of other sports and hobbies.

Opelka believes their similar upbringings and interests resulted in the trio quickly bonding upon arrival in a highly competitive environment in Florida, ultimately helping them to succeed in pressurised moments.

“We trained twice a day for two or three hours each time and it was intense, but then the rest of the time we could just chill out and do we want,” Opelka recalled. “We did a ton of different things. It was all in South Florida. It was a happening area with nice weather all year round.

“We still had other interests. At 14, Tommy was skating and playing basketball more than tennis even and Fritz was in public school in 10th grade, I was in ninth grade. We were more traditional American kids.”

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While friendships blossomed away from the court, on it, the desire to win remained high. As Fritz sat next to Paul in the canteen following an opening-round win in Eastbourne in June, he reflected on how his first encounter with his countryman left him feeling deflated.

“The first time Tommy and I played each other was in a national tournament, and I guess, these guys were way better than me at the time. These guys had like a competition, maybe Frances [Tiafoe] as well, they went on to play at the same time, they had a competition who could finish faster,” Fritz said. “Tommy wasn’t even taking the match seriously with me. ‘Let’s see who can beat the idiots quicker’, was the situation. It wasn’t great, I needed to improve.”

A decade on and the improvement Fritz has made has been clear for the world to see. Sat at No. 13 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the 24-year-old is the current American No. 1, highlighted by his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells earlier this year.

Paul has also flourished on Tour over the past year, capturing his first tour-level title in Stockholm in November, before he climbed to a career-high No. 31 in August.

Four-time ATP Tour champion and Top 20 star Opelka is not surprised by the success both are having.

“Taylor is so optimistic all the time. He has always been like that,” Opelka said. “A bit delusion and I don’t mean that as an insult. You look at Wimbledon last year. After Roland Garros in 2021 he had a procedure on his knee and the doctor and physio said no. And he said, ‘No, I will be fine’, and that is him. He is very optimistic, which is why he is such a competitor.

“Then Tommy is a great athlete. Physically he is very good. He has got stronger and has taken the natural athletism he has to another level. His natural tennis ability is off the charts. It just took him a bit of time to get the discipline.”


A post shared by Reilly Opelka (@reillyopelka)

Opelka believes that the key to their success has been the different paths they have taken in the sport. Although this has reduced the time they have spent together in recent years, the 24-year-old feels it has been beneficial to their careers.

“We all have got older and now all have our own coach. Taylor and I still share a physio. Taylor just moved to Miami, so I see more of him. We have gone our own directions, which is normal evolution,” said Opelka, who is not competing in Cincinnati due to injury. “Different coaches and training setups and just doing the essential things for our career. You have to prioritise.”

However, with the trio travelling the Tour together every week, the opportunities to hang out in a range of cities remains.

With Fritz a video games fanatic, Opelka interested in fashion and Paul into water sports, they immerse themselves in a range of different activities when they do spend time together.

“We have similar interests and different interests at the same time,” Paul told “Reilly is big into fashion and art and Fritz loves his video games. I have never been too into that but I get involved with them.

“I had my time playing games during quarantine. I played a little bit online with Taylor, Call Of Duty, Fortnite. Their interests have in some ways worn off on me. Sometimes I will play video games with Fritz, sometimes I will go and see art with Reilly. It has been cool. I am very happy to have close friends on Tour and it has always been a tight group.”


A post shared by Reilly Opelka (@reillyopelka)

With spirits high, the trio will be targeting further success throughout the rest of the season and beyond as they look to break new ground. That is the nature of playing professional sport. However, Fritz believes their success to this point must also be celebrated.

“We have been through so much,” Fritz said. “It’s crazy to think you grew up with a lot of people playing tennis, and not many of them end up making it professionally and we all were able to come up and be on Tour together. It is great.”

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"Big-Stage Botic": van de Zandschulp On What Makes Medvedev Unique

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2022

“Big-Stage Botic”: van de Zandschulp On What Makes Medvedev Unique

Dutchman reflects on his rapid rise over the past year

Botic van de Zandschulp has quickly become a star on the ATP Tour, ranked a career-high No. 24 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The Dutchman’s rise has been so swift, he was outside the Top 100 a year ago and did not get into qualifying at last year’s Western & Southern Open. On Tuesday evening, he will face World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev for a place in the third round of the main draw.

“I actually like the big courts, the big stages. I feel more free when I am playing on a big court. It’s still so different from last year, playing tournaments where not a lot of people were coming to watch,” van de Zandschulp told “Of course it’s really nice that it’s happening so fast that I’m playing a lot of big names.”

This will be his third clash against Medvedev in less than a year. Their first meeting came in the quarter-finals of the US Open, where van de Zandschulp made a dream run as a qualifier. The 6’3” right-hander was the only player who won a set against Medvedev at Flushing Meadows.

Despite trailing 0-2 in their ATP Head2Head series, van de Zandschulp has learned a lot about the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals champion’s game.

“He’s returning from so far. Other guys aren’t returning that far, so that was a thing that was different from other matches,” van de Zandschulp said. “It’s insane how he never played a slice when he’s reaching for a backhand. He never plays a slice. Those are things I never faced before so it’s something to get used to. Now I’ve played him twice and let’s hope the third time is going to be better than the last two times.”

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Van de Zandschulp added: “I think when you see it on TV, sometimes the angles he makes with some shots, when you give him an angle, he’s making a better angle when he hits the shot. I think that’s something you don’t see well on the TV and you feel the most when you play against him.”

This time last year, van de Zandschulp had still never been to the United States. His first visit came when he arrived in New York for US Open qualifying. It has been a whirlwind since.

“[It has gone] really quick, actually. I’m still adjusting. I have to say when I normally play tournaments, I played a lot in Europe last year. When I was done with a tournament, I went to another one or went home. Here maybe you have one or two matches if you play a Masters and you practise more than when you play Challengers,” van de Zandschulp said. “Sometimes that’s pretty tough I think to adjust to. You play a little bit less matches for more points. I have to say that’s the most challenging at the moment.”

However challenging, it has not shown in van de Zandschulp’s results. The 26-year-old began the season with 16 tour-level wins and after defeating American Maxime Cressy in the first round in Cincinnati, he has 28 in 2022 alone.

Part of his success has come from how he has handled the pressure of the big stages. Many players initially breaking onto the ATP Tour would take time to acclimatise to it. Not van de Zandschulp, though. Take his mindset entering his match against Medvedev at last year’s US Open, for example.

“I think I walked on court full of confidence. I already played some matches there. Went on court with confidence and I liked the stage because the match before I played on [Louis] Armstrong [Stadium] against Schwartzman and it was a great atmosphere,” van de Zandschulp said. “I was really looking forward to play on Arthur Ashe and I didn’t really feel the nerves. I didn’t feel stressed when I walked on court. I felt free and I think that’s how I played in the match as well.”

The Dutchman will hope to feel the same way Tuesday in Cincinnati.

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'Foki' Embraces Yin Yang, Kyrgios Challenge

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2022

‘Foki’ Embraces Yin Yang, Kyrgios Challenge

Spaniard discusses his tattoos, lucky chestnut, superstitions and more

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina knows that when he steps on centre court at the Western & Southern Open Tuesday, he will be facing one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour in Nick Kyrgios. That would make some players nervous.

Not Davidovich Fokina.

“I always say that I prefer to play on the big stadiums,” Davidovich Fokina told “I increase my level and I prefer to play in those stadiums. With Kyrgios, who is a showman, it is for sure going to be a fun match to watch.”

The Spaniard knows the Australian reached the Wimbledon final, triumphed in Washington and advanced to the Montreal quarter-finals. Playing an opponent of his form is something Davidovich Fokina plans to embrace.

“He’s playing very good. He’s on fire right now. For sure it is going to be a tough match,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I will do my best. I will try to bother him on his serve, try my best and let’s see what happens.”

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The Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals alumnus has proven he can compete with the best players in the world. Earlier this season, Davidovich Fokina, known as “Foki”, advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. That run started with a lucky chestnut.

One of the Spaniard’s best friends received a chestnut from another friend, and he gave it to Davidovich Fokina ahead of the Monagesque tournament in the hopes it would give him luck. That chestnut has not left Foki’s racquet bag since.

“I always take it with me. It’s [from] one of my best friends. He thought it was going to bring me luck that week,” Davidovich Fokina said. “But I think we need to recharge that chestnut!”

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Since Monte Carlo in April, Davidovich Fokina has won consecutive matches just twice. But by nature, he is optimistic.

“In life, you have a process with everything. You have to go step by step, you cannot rush to do things,” Davidovich Fokina said. “If not, you are going to crash into the wall. You have to take it slowly, quietly and go into your rhythm.”

Davidovich Fokina embodies that mindset with a tattoo on his chest that reads “step by step”. You can learn a lot about the Spaniard from his six tattoos, the second of which is a large tsunami wave on his left forearm.

<a href=''>Alejandro Davidovich Fokina</a>
Photo Credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour
“With my team and myself, we always say I am like a tsunami,” Davidovich Fokina said, cracking a laugh. “Where I go, I race. I just wanted to have it on my body to remember every day what that means.”

These days, that is mostly in reference to his on-court demeanour, which he readily admits can be fiery. His coach, Jorge Aguirre, has even referred to Davidovich Fokina as a “volcano” on the court.

“That changes. A long time ago I was more like a tsunami off the court [too],” Davidovich Fokina said. “I was more impatient. I want to do a lot of things at one time. Now I’m more quiet, more calm. Every year the energy is going down. I’m getting older! Now I’m starting to be more patient and I can transmit that to the court, too.”

The yin-and-yang symbol on his right wrist also shows the Spaniard’s philosophical side.

“I always think that bad things are always a small good thing. A very good thing is always a bad thing,” Davidovich Fokina said. “That’s life!”

Most of the time, you can find Davidovich Fokina having a good laugh. He is even happy to have a good chuckle at himself, like when he discusses his sock superstition. On the court, the 23-year-old wears one white sock and one black sock for matches.

“Since I was 15, I’m doing that with the socks. Now I cannot wear the same colour of socks,” Davidovich Fokina said. “[But] when I go out with my friends, I wear normal ones!”

Although the Spaniard knows he will face a tough test on Tuesday against Kyrgios, it is safe to say he will make the most of the experience.

“I think it’s going to be a fun match,” Davidovich Fokina said. “The [fans] should come to watch the match, it’s going to be interesting and let’s see what happens.”

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Tuesday Preview: Kyrgios Brings Hot Form To Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2022

Tuesday Preview: Kyrgios Brings Hot Form To Cincinnati

World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, No. 4 Carlos Alcaraz also in action Tuesday

If there’s one thing Nick Kyrgios has never lacked, it’s confidence in his game. Even in what he’s dubbed his “darkest times,” when he even questioned his livelihood, he never lost that self-belief, the knowledge that when he’s on his game he can hold his own against the sport’s elite.

“I could lose five matches in a row and I still believe that I have a chance to beat anyone,” said the 27-year-old Canberran last week in Montreal, where he defeated World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev for the third time in four ATP Head2Heads.

A refocused, reinvigorated Kyrgios again finds himself in Medvedev’s quarter at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, though there are some obstacles standing in the way of a rematch. The Aussie will open with a first-time encounter with Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday at the Linder Family Tennis Center, and could later face the likes of Taylor Fritz or Andrey Rublev should he advance.

Out to a subpar 4-9 start in 2022, Davidovich Fokina turned his year around in April with a dream run to the first ATP Tour final of his career. It came on the hallowed clay of the Rolex Monte-Carlos Masters, and saw the 22-year-old Andalusian stun the likes of then-top-ranked Novak Djokovic, David Goffin, Fritz and Grigor Dimitrov in reaching the title match, where he finally succumbed to defending champ Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-3, 7-6(3).

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Despite a streak-snapping loss to Pole Hubert Hurkacz in the Montreal quarter-finals, Kyrgios has put himself in a much more favourable position heading into the US Open, where he’ll now be among the seeds. Including his run to his first major final at Wimbledon, Kyrgios reeled off nine consecutive wins, including the title match in Washington, and won 15 of 17 matches to bring his Pepperstone ATP Ranking up to No. 28.

Medvedev, the Cincinnati titlist in 2019, will battle it out with Rafael Nadal this week for World No. 1, as Nadal has an opportunity to reclaim the position for the first time since January 2020. The 2013 champ could pull it off if he again wins the title and Medvedev fails to reach the quarter-finals. The outcome will determine the top seed at Flushing Meadows.

First up for Medvedev is Western & Southern Open debutant Botic van de Zandschulp, who has achieved a new career-high ranking 12 times in 2022, peaking at No. 24 in July. He got the best of the Dutchman in the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open, 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5, later claiming the first major of his career. He again prevailed against van de Zandschulp in the third round of the 2022 Australian Open, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

“For sure [I] want to try to win as many matches as possible here to grow this confidence of winning matches for the US Open,” said Medvedev, who begins his 13th week at World No. 1, passing Boris Becker on the all-time leaderboard. “But we’ll take it match by match. As we see in the draw, I feel that the draw is very, very packed. Sometimes you have somebody retiring here and there, somebody tired from the season, maybe not in the best shape here. When I look at the draw I’m like, ‘Wow, every match we have, even in the first round, is a tough match.’”

The Tuesday lineup will also showcase: Fritz vs. Sebastian Baez, Jannik Sinner vs. qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis, Carlos Alcaraz vs. wildcard Mackenzie McDonald, and an all-American tussle between Tommy Paul and Jenson Brooksby.

Alcaraz is still growing accustomed to his success. Seeded No. 2 last week at the National Bank Open in Montreal, he was ousted in the first round by Paul, 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 6-3, later confiding that the pressure, the expectations got to him.

“It was the first time that I felt that pressure, and I couldn’t handle it,” said the 19-year-old Spaniard.

Seeded No. 3 in Cincinnati, he says he’s now “trying to use the pressure in my favour.” He already owns ATP Masters 1000 titles this year in Miami and Madrid, and could jump from No. 4 to No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings should he go on to claim the title this week.


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Big Win For Big Foe! Tiafoe Battles Past Berrettini In Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2022

Big Win For Big Foe! Tiafoe Battles Past Berrettini In Cincinnati

American will next play countryman Korda

Frances Tiafoe cherishes competing on the biggest stages. The American proved it again on Monday evening in Cincinnati.

Tiafoe battled past Italian star Matteo Berrettini 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-6(5) to reach the second round of the Western & Southern Open. The 24-year-old levelled his ATP Head2Head series with the two-time Nitto ATP Finals competitor at 1-1.

“People don’t understand, obviously results haven’t really shown how well I’ve been playing. I’ve been playing some great tennis, honestly,” Tiafoe said in his on-court interview. “I really just needed this. I know it’s a first-round match…. But everyone knew why I needed this against a quality player, so it was big.

“I know I’ve beaten a lot of these guys, but it hasn’t happened of late. So it’s one of those things where you’ve got to get over the hump. But I’m happy I get another chance to play again.”

<a href=''>Frances Tiafoe</a>
Photo Credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour
It was not the first time during the North American hard-court swing that Tiafoe was in a tight match against a big-hitting star. In Washington, he earned five match points against Nick Kyrgios, but fell short.

It seemed like déjà vû under the lights at the Lindner Family Tennis Center when he let slip three match points. This time, however, Tiafoe finished the job after two hours and 52 minutes.

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Berrettini was clutch throughout the evening, saving all eight break points he faced. At 5-6 in the third set, the Italian faced match point on his serve. A ball that bounced high off the top of the net allowed the World No. 15 to rush forward and pummel a forehand. The problem for him was that Tiafoe guessed the correct direction and laced a backhand passing shot crosscourt.

Tiafoe, his coach, Wayne Ferreira, and the Cincinnati crowd thought the American had made it to end the match, but a replay showed the ball was just out. It was so close, that Ferreira had begun to stand from his chair to celebrate.

Instead of letting that moment affect him, Tiafoe went straight back to work and played a solid tie-break to move on.

The fans urged on Tiafoe throughout the evening, and the American was quick to encourage them. After hitting a curling forehand passing shot for a 5-4 lead in the third set, he waved for the crowd to get louder and help push him over the finish line.

According to the INSIGHTS: In Attack metric, Tiafoe played 26 per cent of his shots from an attacking position compared to 21 per cent for Berrettini, who is one of the most powerful players on the ATP Tour. That helped the American control the tempo of play and prevent his opponent from too frequently wielding his power.


Tiafoe will next play American Sebastian Korda, who defeated Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-4. Tiafoe leads their ATP Head2Head series 3-0, with their most recent clash coming earlier this year on clay in Estoril.

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