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Ruud Advances With 200th Win, Rune Falls On Day 1 At US Open

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2023

Ruud Advances With 200th Win, Rune Falls On Day 1 At US Open

Carballes Baena downs Rune for maiden Top 10 win

Top 10 stars Casper Ruud and Holger Rune were both involved in four-set matches Monday at the US Open but only Ruud survived his first-round test at the hard-court major in New York.

The 2022 finalist Ruud held off home qualifier Emilio Nava 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) on Court 17 at Flushing Meadows for his 200th tour-level victory. The fifth seed overcame an uber-aggressive performance from the 21-year-old Nava, who struck a remarkable 72 winners to Ruud’s 27 but was unable to find the consistency required to pull off an upset.

Aware of his opponent’s desire to dictate, Ruud stayed cool and offered up just 21 unforced errors to Nava’s 49 across the four sets. That approach was particularly key in the tie-breaks he won in the first and fourth sets, as Ruud’s greater experience told under pressure.

Ruud is now 10-5 at the US Open, where he fell to Carlos Alcaraz in last year’s championship match. His next opponent as he seeks another deep run at Flushing Meadows will be Zhang Zhizhen, after the Chinese star defied a J.J. Wolf comeback for a 7-5, 7-5, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-3 first-round win.

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Roberto Carballes Baena earlier engineered the first major upset of the fortnight in New York as the World No. 63 defeated fourth seed Rune 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Carballes Baena broke Rune seven times on Court 5 as he registered his first Top 10 win at the 14th attempt in two hours, 42 minutes. He stayed rock-solid against a visibly frustrated Rune, who has now lost four straight tour-level matches stretching back to his quarter-final defeat to Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon.

The 30-year-old Carballes Baena made just 21 unforced errors to Rune’s 43, frugality which kept the Dane under constant pressure throughout the pair’s first meeting since Wimbledon. Rune was a straight-sets winner at SW19 but could not raise his level consistently enough in Monday’s clash in New York to prevent Carballes Baena taking a 2-1 Lexus ATP Head2Head series lead against the World No. 4.

Now into the second round for the fifth time in six main-draw appearances at Flushing Meadows, Carballes Baena next faces Jiri Lehecka or Aslan Karatsev as he looks to reach the third round for the first time.

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Tiafoe Makes Fast Start, Fritz Reaches Second Round In New York

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2023

Tiafoe Makes Fast Start, Fritz Reaches Second Round In New York

American Tiafoe reached semi-finals at major in 2022

Frances Tiafoe made a fast start at the US Open Monday, where he moved past American wild card Learner Tien 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 to reach the second round.

The 10th seed Tiafoe enjoyed a standout run to the semi-finals on home soil in New York last year, defeating then-Top 10 stars Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev before falling to champion Carlos Alcaraz. Competing on Arthur Ashe Stadium again, Tiafoe quickly found his range to entertain the American fans.

“I really love this court, I really enjoy playing here. It hasn’t been the best summer for me, but I love playing on this court,” said Tiafoe, who went 1-2 at ATP Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati in August. “I just want to come and do really well. The last time I played here was one of the toughest losses of my life. To come back out here and play as well as I did and take care of business is nice.

“I am leaving everything I’ve got. If I die out here, I die out here. I have to put it all on the line and hopefully it is good enough.”

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The 25-year-old broke lefty Tien’s serve seven times, struck 37 winners and showed good touch around the net to advance after two hours and nine minutes.

Tiafoe, who is competing at a career-high No. 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, will next play Austrian Sebastian Ofner after the World No. 58 beat Nuno Borges 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4.

The three-time tour-level titlist Tiafoe has now won his past 17 matches against left handers, dating back to 2021, when he fell against Liam Broady in Eastbourne.

Tiafoe’s countryman Ben Shelton also advanced. The 20-year-old, currently fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah, defeated Pedro Cachin 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to set a second-round meeting against former champion Dominic Thiem.

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Taylor Fritz ensured both Top 10 American stars advanced to the second round in New York. The World No. 9 Fritz moved past countryman Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in 81 minutes.

Fritz suffered a shock first-round defeat against Brandon Holt at the US Open last year, but produced a dominant display against Johnson to ensure he would not fall at the first hurdle again. The 25-year-old won 100 per cent (23/23) of his first-serve points and fired 10 aces to earn his 34th tour-level win of the year. He will next play Miomir Kecmanovic or Juan Pablo Varillas.

Fritz is chasing his maiden major this fortnight. The biggest trophy he has clinched on Tour was at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells in 2022.

American 14th seed Tommy Paul, who is up to a career-high No. 11 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, needed four sets to defeat Italian qualifier Stefano Travaglia 6-2, 6-3, 4-6. 6-1. He next meets Wimbledon quarter-finalist Roman Safiullin.

Sebastian Korda, the 31st seeded American, lost a tough five-setter to Marton Fucsovics 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-4 one week after taking out the Hungarian at the Winston-Salem Open. Korda came into the US Open with an ankle injury, which forced him to withdraw from his scheduled semi-final in Winston-Salem without hitting a ball.

World No. 45 American J.J. Wolf also bowed out in five sets, falling 7-5, 7-5, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-3 to China’s Zhang Zhizhen.

#NextGen ATP American Ben Shelton rallied from a set down to defeat Argentine Pedro Cachin 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

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Lehecka Hits Career High, Mover Of Week

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2023

Lehecka Hits Career High, Mover Of Week looks at the top Movers of the Week in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, as of Monday, 28 August 2023

Next Gen ATP Finals alumni Sebastian Baez and Jiri Lehecka enjoyed strong runs at the Winston-Salem Open to earn themselves a pre-US Open boost in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. looks at the movers of the week in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as of 28 August 2023.

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No. 29 Jiri Lehecka, +6 (Career High)
The 21-year-old Lehecka fell just short of his maiden ATP Tour crown in Winston-Salem but has nonetheless risen to a career-high No. 29. The Czech, who also reached the final at the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals, defeated the in-form Max Purcell en route to the championship match at the ATP 250 before falling to Baez.

No. 23 Borna Coric, +6
The top seed in Winston-Salem, Coric’s run to his third tour-level semi-final of the season has boosted his chances of a swift return to the Top 20 after he dropped out last week. Baez edged the Croatian in a deciding tie-break to claim a three-hour, 19-minute last-four epic in North Carolina, but Coric will be happy to have gathered some momentum ahead of his US Open campaign.

No. 31 Sebastian Korda, +2
There was a bittersweet end for Korda in Winston-Salem, where the American saved match point to down Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals but was then forced to withdraw from the event due to an ankle injury sustained during his win against the Frenchman. Korda earlier dispatched Benjamin Bonzi and Marton Fucsovics in straight sets at the ATP 250, and next faces a rematch with the latter in the US Open first round.

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No. 32 Sebastian Baez, +10
The 22-year-old Baez became just the fourth player to win at least three tour-level titles this season with his Winston-Salem triumph, joining Carlos Alcaraz (6 titles), Daniil Medvedev (5) and Novak Djokovic (4) on that list. The Argentine showed few signs of fatigue after his semi-final marathon with Coric, easing past Lehecka in the championship match to extend his winning streak to 10 matches.

No. 43 Max Purcell, +4 (Career High)
Australia’s Purcell backed up his quarter-final run in Cincinnati with another last-eight appearance in Winston-Salem. The 25-year-old upset second seed Tallon Griekspoor in the third-round for his 11th win (including qualifying matches) in August. Although Lehecka proved too strong in the quarter-finals, Purcell has risen four spots to a career-high No. 43.

Other Notable Top 100 Movers
No. 24 Tallon Griekspoor, +1 (Career High)
No. 55 Richard Gasquet, +2
No. 68 Brandon Nakashima, +4
No. 75 Dominik Koepfer, +3
No. 85 Yosuke Watanuki, +3 (Career High)
No. 89 Michael Mmoh, +5
No. 93 Juan Manuel Cerundolo, +7

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Nishikori Withdraws From US Open

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2023

Nishikori Withdraws From US Open

Former World No. 4 withdsraws due to injury

Kei Nishikori withdrew from the US Open on Sunday due to injury, the tournament announced.

The former World No. 4 withdrew from other tournaments earlier this North American hard-court swing due to a left knee injury. 

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Nishikori in June returned to action for the first time since October 2021. The Japanese star immediately found his form, winning an ATP Challenger Tour title at Palmas del Mar. After competing in two more Challenger events, he reached the Atlanta quarter-finals. But Nishikori has not competed since and now will have to wait to make his return to Grand Slam action. 

The 33-year-old will be replaced in the draw by Australian James Duckworth, who will take on Brazilian Felipe Meligeni Alves in the first round.

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Broomfield: How US Open Completely Changed Tiafoe's Life

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2023

Broomfield: How US Open Completely Changed Tiafoe’s Life

Tiafoe’s girlfriend reflects on Break Point experience

One year ago, Frances Tiafoe enjoyed his breakthrough moment. Having never advanced past the fourth round at the US Open, the American rallied the support of the New York fans — and many throughout the world — to help push through to the semi-finals.

Tiafoe stunned Rafael Nadal and upset Andrey Rublev before pushing eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz to five sets in one of the most memorable matches of the season. His journey during the fortnight was documented in Netflix’s Break Point.

The ATP recently caught up with Tiafoe’s longtime girlfriend, Ayan Broomfield, to speak about the experience of filming for a docuseries and Tiafoe’s unforgettable tournament in New York.

“That two-week period completely changed his life, changed my life, changed his whole family’s life. It was magical,” Broomfield said. “I think when people actually understand what it took for him to actually get there financially, and just his story, I think people understand that it was more than just a tennis match. It’s literally a dream come true.

“I think his story being told in this kind of setting was kind of like a storytelling setting was amazing. And people really got to see Frances for who he actually is and what he brings to the sport.”

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One of the most fun moments of Tiafoe’s episode was when cameras took fans behind the scenes of the American’s ride back to Manhattan with his team after he upset Nadal in the fourth round.

“That was definitely a fun moment. Obviously beating one of the greats of tennis, you’re going to be super excited. But Frances is just the most happy guy. He’s so happy-go-lucky. And I think for me, I’m more of a balance of happy and kind of just serious,” Broomfield said. “I think we balance each other out a lot. And his team, I think we’re all trying to focus on maybe getting him a little bit more calm so he can focus a little bit more throughout his matches.

“But any time Frances does anything, we’re all just so happy for him, and we can’t contain it. So that’s literally how we are 95 per cent of the time, our team.”

Not only did Netflix bring fans closer to Tiafoe’s tennis success, but his background story. With parents from Sierra Leone, Tiafoe was introduced to tennis because his father was a maintenance worker at the Junior Tennis Champions Centre in College Park, Maryland.

According to Broomfield, there was a scene back home that did not make the cut.

“There was one scene that I think would have been really, really interesting for people to see about Frances. I think we did one scene at his old home and it was kind of in a lower-income area,” Broomfield said. “He actually got pretty emotional and was talking about kind of where he came from and his story a little bit more. And I think it would have been really interesting for people to see visually where he started and where he is now. But I think they did a really good job telling his story anyway.”

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People might not know that Broomfield was a top college tennis player at Clemson University and then UCLA. She cracked the Top 500 of the WTA Rankings.

“We can talk about tennis. I mean, I played tennis myself. So even just when we’re seeing the draw, and we kind of look at certain players, sometimes I can act as a sounding board for matches,” Broomfield said. “Not to say that he takes my advice, but it’s nice to be able to chat about it and strategy. I just feel like we just understand it and what it takes for someone to go and be able to compete at the highest level.”

Broomfield was happy with the experience they had filming Break Point.

“I thought it was going to be a little bit more overwhelming. But they blended in super well. I felt very comfortable. It was just as if they weren’t even there at all,” Broomfield said. “And then after watching it all back, I think it was just really fun to see how we interacted with each other. I think in the moment you don’t really see kind of how you are. But after it was fun to watch, I enjoyed it.”

Now, one year after the moment that was featured in the show, Tiafoe is back in New York for the US Open. The American will play countryman Learner Tien on Monday in the first round.

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From 'Gym Rat' To Top Prospect, Quinn Ready For US Open Debut

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2023

From ‘Gym Rat’ To Top Prospect, Quinn Ready For US Open Debut

Learn about the 19-year-old’s rise

When Ethan Quinn was three years old, his parents handed him a tennis racquet and tied a ball to a string, hanging it from their patio.

“I just remember hitting the ball and feeling the ball. If I missed it would hit me in the face. That’s about as much as I can remember about it,” Quinn told “I think it’s just the thing that grasped my attention the most. I was never a kid who played video games or anything like that.”

For hours, the Californian would stand, swinging at the ball over and over before his parents would took him inside. Just before Ethan’s fifth birthday, his family moved to a new house. Hitting the ball hanging from the patio is the only memory he has of their old home.

That young boy, who simply enjoyed swinging his racquet is now one of the brightest young talents in American tennis. On Monday, the 2023 NCAA men’s singles champion will make his main draw debut at the US Open against Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles.

To understand the 19-year-old’s rise is to look back at his roots in Fresno, California. The new home his family moved to was two blocks from Fig Garden Swim & Racquet Club.

“As a five-year-old kid, you were just like, ‘Oh my god, I can easily go walk that or ride my bike there,’” Quinn said. “I would do that as much as I could.”

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Quinn played soccer until sixth grade, basketball from fifth until eighth grade, and skied when he was younger. But tennis was always the sport for him.

“I was good at soccer until fourth grade, and then everyone caught up to my size. And I was just like, ‘Well, this isn’t fun. I’m not faster or bigger than anyone or have good ball skills,’” Quinn recalled. “So I think I just had the most talent at tennis. I just enjoyed being out there at the tennis club. It was so close to my house that it was like a home away from home actually, just being so close.”

While the club was a quick walk from home, Quinn’s parents had heard of an academy with top-level players run by Brad Stine, who had coached former World No. 1 Jim Courier. It was not in the nicest facility, though. In fact, it was moreso known for its gym.

“To be honest with you, I think one of the things that was great about the academy, especially for the elite training group, was that we trained at a s***hole,” Stine said. “We used to tell the guys all the time, ‘You’re never going to play any tournaments at some place worse than where we trained. It’s always going to be an upgrade, it’s just going to feel nice. If you can train and work hard and do your best and become a better player, practising and playing on these courts in this environment, going to tournaments is going to be like a luxury for you.’”

There were several players in the elite training programme who went on to enjoy distinguished college tennis careers, including Billy Griffith of the University of California, Cameron Klinger of Vanderbilt University and Logan Staggs of UCLA. Quinn was younger than the group and was forced to earn his place in the elite training group.

“Ethan obviously stood out just from the standpoint of his technique, and also his commitment,” Stine said. “He was basically a gym rat back at that time. He loved to come and he would do his session, which was our afterschool programme for local kids, because a lot of my kids were not necessarily from the area. We had a local programme also.

“And basically, when he kind of outgrew that group, from the standpoint of his ball-striking capabilities and everything, is when we moved him up. That was kind of a big deal for him to be able to be part of that group.”

Stine was adamant that the older, stronger players should not lower their level to accommodate younger players. Instead, Quinn and another kid his age were made to rise to the level of their opponents and scramble to make extra balls back into play to continue points. Age was not an excuse.

Stine ran the academy for three years before working for the USTA and then returning to the ATP Tour to coach Kevin Anderson and his current charge, Tommy Paul. The American has become a mentor to Quinn, who earned his place as one of the best juniors in the country and as a top-ranked prospect enrolled at the University of Georgia.

This past season, his redshirt freshman year, he overcame early struggles, losing nine of his first 12 completed matches of 2023. From then on, Quinn completely turned his season around. In the NCAA men’s singles event, he saved match point in the first round against Luc Fomba of Texas Christian University and saved four match points in the final against the University of Michigan’s Ondrej Styler.

The victory earned him a wild card into the US Open. Shortly thereafter, he spoke on the phone with Stine, who urged him to turn professional.

“Definitely I was a little bit intimidated. I never had the plan of really leaving early. I always wanted to get my degree, win an NCAA Championship, which I guess I did individually. I wanted to win a team one, but life works wonders in mysterious ways,” Quinn said. “So I was presented the opportunity. Brad immediately after winning NCAAs, me and him chatted on the phone. He was like, ‘I really think for you as a tennis player and where you want to go, I think it would be best to turn pro.’”

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Quinn began his journey on the ATP Tour in Newport, where he claimed his first tour-level win. He still has been taking classes online and is keen to earn his degree.

“I’ll have a life after tennis once my career is over,” Quinn said. “So I find it very, very important for me to get that… I feel like having that accomplishment is very special.”

For now, Quinn will focus on his opportunity at the US Open, where he will play 26-year-old Zapata Miralles, who is competing in his 10th major main draw.

“We talked about from a very early age with Ethan that he was to never use age as an excuse. His age, being younger, or playing someone else older,” Stine said. “Obviously he played up a lot when he was younger. So I was like, ‘You can’t use it as an excuse that you lost to someone because they’re older than you. You’re a tennis player, and they’re a tennis player, and your goal is to find a way to beat them.’”

Quinn will try to do just that Monday with a potential showdown with 23-time major winner Novak Djokovic looming in the second round.

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Five Challenger Tour Players To Watch At The US Open

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2023

Five Challenger Tour Players To Watch At The US Open

Ofner makes US Open debut looks at five ATP Challenger Tour players to keep your eyes on during the US Open.

Alex Michelsen
The 18-year-old American won his first Challenger title last month in Chicago and has since continued his surge. The following week, Michelsen was a finalist at the ATP 250 event in Newport despite competing in just his second tour-level tournament.

Michelsen was committed to play college tennis at the University of Georgia this upcoming year, but the World No. 133 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings announced his decision to forgo his college eligibility and turn pro in early August. The California native will bring his rock-solid backhand to his major main-draw debut in Flushing Meadows, where he opens against Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

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Jakub Mensik
In May, the big-serving Mensik won the ATP Challenger Tour event in Prague, where he became the youngest Czech Challenger champion in history (since 1978). The 2022 Australian Open boys’ singles finalist was ranked outside the Top 800 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings last August and has since risen to No. 191.

The 17-year-old is the second-youngest player in the US Open main draw, behind American Learner Tien. Mensik, who will meet Frenchman Gregoire Barrere in the first round, advanced through qualifying to make his first major main draw.

Dominic Stricker
The #NextGenATP Swiss has tallied an 18-9 match at the Challenger level this year, with titles coming in Rovereto and Prague. At No. 113 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, Stricker will be hopeful for a strong run in New York to push him closer to his Top 100 debut.

Stricker, 21, made his first major main-draw appearance this year at Roland Garros before qualifying for Wimbledon. The lefty’s aggressive style of play will next be on display at the American Slam, where he advanced through qualifying, in which he saved a match point in the second round to stay alive. Stricker will open against Cincinnati quarter-finalist Alexei Popyrin.

Yosuke Watanuki
Despite playing just six Challenger events in 2023, Watanuki has reached the semi-finals at three. The Japanese star, who first cracked the Top 100 on 31 July, earned the highest-ranked win of his career earlier this month when he upset then-World No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime in Washington, D.C. Watanuki, who is coached by his brother Keisuke, is making his US Open main-draw debut.

His first-round match against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino will be a contrast of styles. While the Frenchman is known for his flat groundstrokes and craftiness, Watanuki will grab fan’s attention with his easy firepower and quick speed.

Sebastian Ofner
Nobody boasts more Challenger match wins in 2023 than Ofner (35-12). The Austrian has reached at least the final in six Challenger events this season, including a title run on home soil in Salzburg last month.

The 27-year-old enjoyed a surprise run at Roland Garros, where he reached the fourth round as a qualifier, leading to his Top 100 debut. Playing the US Open main draw for the first time, the World No. 58 will start against Portugal’s Nuno Borges.

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Five Things To Know About Learner Tien

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2023

Five Things To Know About Learner Tien

Seventeen-year-old to play Tiafoe in the US Open

The youngest player in the US Open field is 17-year-old Learner Tien from Irvine, California. The only other player his age in the tournament is Jakub Mensik, who turns 18 on 1 September.

Tien will try to secure his first tour-level victory when he faces 2022 semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe on Monday inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. Before the match, looks at five things to know about the Tien.

Learner First Held A Racquet Before Turning Two
Tien’s parents, Khuong Tien and Huyen Tien, played tennis recreationally. Naturally, they passed the sport onto their son from a young age. In fact, Tien first held a racquet at the age of one and a half.

A lefty, he would play with his family at community courts in Irvine, California. His father was his primary coach until he was brought into the USTA Player Development programme at 10 or 11 years old.

The Californian First Played The US Open Aged 16
One year ago, Tien competed in the US Open as a 16-year-old, pushing Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic to four sets. He earned his wild card into the draw by winning the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships, becoming the event’s youngest champion since Donald Young in 2005.

Tien repeated the feat this year to earn another US Open wild card. Ironically, he defeated Trevor Svajda in the final. Svajda’s older brother, Zachary Svajda, was the most recent two-time champion at the event.

“Winning the Boy’s 18s National Hard Courts back-to-back years at the age of 16 and 17 have been major stepping stones in my career so far,” Tien said.

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Tien Has Enjoyed Major Success
While he is set to compete in a major as a professional for the first time, Tien has enjoyed success at Grand Slam tournaments as a junior. Less than three months ago, he advanced to the semi-finals of the Roland Garros boys’ singles event after making the final of the Australian Open Boys’ Singles tournament earlier in the year.

Ironically, the only major at which Tien did not reach at least the quarter-finals was the US Open, where he lost in the first round last year. Tien reached a career-high World No. 4 in the juniors.

He Played A Semester Of College Tennis
Despite only being 17, Tien played a semester of college tennis at the University of Southern California this spring before turning professional. He also began high school early, aged 11-and-a-half.

“To my brothers, thank you for taking me in as the naive kid I was and opening my eyes to see that there was a part of tennis so much bigger than just myself,” Tien wrote after deciding to turn professional. “Above all else, thank you for the lifelong memories and friendships. You guys will always have my support, and I look forward to seeing you all crush it next year.”

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Learner’s Favourites Off Court Are…
When not playing tennis, Tien enjoys watching movies and playing video games. His favourite movie is Gladiator and television show is Breaking Bad.

The lefty’s guilty pleasure is candy and favourite school subject is English. The American said his best quality is his composure and his worst quality is his indecisiveness.

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