#NextGenATP Tiafoe Sets Up Federer Clash
Zeballos, King advance on Thursday
#NextGenATP player Frances Tiafoe finished strongly in his opening-round match on Thursday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, racing through the final set against Konstantin Kravchuk to advance 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 and set up a clash with fourth seed Roger Federer.
"The guy has about a million Grand Slams and done everything. I can't tell you how excited I am to play. Seeing the draw was partly probably why up a set and 4-1, I started rushing and thinking, 'Oh my god, I'm going to play Roger,'" said Tiafoe. "He's my idol, everyone's idol. People on tour still stare at him in the locker room. He's an absolute legend. We hope he never retires because he's such a good ambassador for the sport."
The American qualifier was unable to convert on two break points up 5-4 in the second set and the Russian eventually levelled the match, but Tiafoe bounced back by surging to a 5-0 lead in the decider. A strong forehand from Tiafoe on his first match point wrapped up the contest after just over two hours of play.
"I think I'm playing some good tennis. It's been showing. I've just been working hard and building as a player, as a person, every day," said Tiafoe. "It's going to be an honour [playing Roger], but I am definitely going to go after him and give it all I've got."
Tiafoe also defeated Kravchuk last week in the opening round of the ATP Challenger Tour event in Irving, Texas. His next match against Federer will mark the first time that the 19 year old has faced a player inside the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Horacio Zeballos set up a second-round clash with top seed Stan Wawrinka after outlasting Gastao Elias 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 36 minutes. Zeballos served to stay in the match at 4-5 in the final set before breaking in the next game. The Argentine improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Elias to 2-1.
Darian King also continued his push towards the Top 100 by prevailing in an all-qualifier battle over Lukas Lacko 7-6(2), 6-4. The Barbados native scored his first main draw win at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event just two weeks ago at the BNP Paribas Open. Next up for King is eighth seed David Goffin.
The lone first-round doubles match to be completed on Thursday due to rain saw Gilles Muller and Sam Querrey defeat Fabio Fognini and Robert Lindstedt 6-0, 4-6, 10-4. They will play the winners between seventh seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers, and Spaniards Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Fernando Verdasco.