Frances Tiafoe is box-office material, and Episode 9 of Break Point proved it.
The American made his long-awaited Netflix debut in the penultimate episode of Season 1 and it did not take long to show why fans around the world have fallen in love with him.
“If you get a chance to change your life, you’ve got to grab it with both hands,” he said.
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Tiafoe’s parents came from Sierra Leone. His mother was a nurse who worked two jobs and his father was a maintenance worker at a tennis facility in College Park, Maryland. Sometimes Tiafoe would stay at the tennis centre and was able to play for free. Nobody in the family could have imagined Frances would end up competing on the biggest stages in the world.
Expert Patrick Mouratoglou said: “He’s one of the most incredible stories in our sport.
“Frances represents better than anyone the American dream.”
Fans were also introduced to Tiafoe’s girlfriend, Ayan Broomfield, whom he began dating when they were 17. They often tell each other, “Let’s change our lives.”
Tiafoe had the opportunity to do just that against all-time great Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the 2022 US Open.
“I’m so pumped up for today,” Tiafoe told his coach Wayne Ferreira during practice ahead of the match. “I’m coming after his motherf***er, bro.”
In the gym right before the players walked onto the court, Ferreira — who was shown to be the “old-school coach” Tiafoe needs — gave his charge a final piece of advice:
“You can do this,” Ferreira said. “Nothing to lose.”
Tiafoe certainly played that way, sending the raucous New York crowd into a frenzy all evening long en route to the biggest win of his career. “He shocked the entire tennis world,” Broomfield said.
Tiafoe eventually lost to Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling semi-final, but he won despite the defeat. It was about motivating kids and showing them what is possible.
“I want to keep inspiring people,” he said.
Tiafoe was devastated in the locker room after falling short. But the USTA’s Eric Butorac told him former First Lady Michelle Obama would like to speak to him and they enjoyed a nice moment together.
A player whose run ended victoriously in the episode was World No. 1 Iga Swiatek.
“[She] will do everything in order to be the best. I like that,” Maria Sharapova said. “But when you see a perfect picture of someone, when they show you that they have everything under control, do they really?”
The answer was a resounding yes.
Break Point gave the viewer insight into the Polish superstar’s mindset. She explained she was never the most popular at school, but did not care. Swiatek prefers to put herself in a bubble ahead of important moments. She was content to spend time in her hotel room putting together a Lego figure. It was the calm before the storm.
“I feel like everybody is chasing me,” she said.
It did not matter. The only thing that came close to stopping her was a distraction in the form of Friends actor Matthew Perry on the big screen (Swiatek is a huge fan of the show). That was the first time she looked at the big screen the entire match.
But it was not able to stop the Pole from claiming another major title.