Tiafoe Edges Edmund In Miami Thriller
Playing in America has always been a recipe for success for Americans – and Frances Tiafoe is no exception.
#NextGen ATP Frances Tiafoe battled his way into the third round of the Miami Open presented by Itau with a tight three-set victory over World No. 26 Kyle Edmund, prevailing 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(1) in a thriller, converting on his sixth match point.
The win sends Tiafoe into the third round at Crandon Park for the first time, following his loss to Roger Federer in the second round in his tournament debut last season. The 20-year-old is currently on a seven-match winning streak in Florida, having claimed his maiden ATP World Tour title in Delray Beach in February. Additionally, the win marks his third Top 30 scalp in the past month (d. Hyeon Chung and Juan Martin del Potro) – prior to that, he had earned just one in his career (d. Zverev). All four Top 30 wins have come on home soil.
The match pitched two contrasting styles of play against each other on a sunny Saturday afternoon. With exceptional athleticism and a flare for impressive shotmaking under pressure, Tiafoe was able to outmanoeuvre the forehand onslaught of his British opponent, much to the delight of the American crowd. In what was a first meeting between the two, the American struck 15 aces and won 58 per cent of return points on his opponent’s second serve.
Despite being broken while serving for the win at 5-4 in the final set, Edmund maintained his typically cool composure, eventually saving six match points before succumbing on the seventh, having fought back from 1/6 down in the final-set tiebreak. With one final ace, however, Tiafoe sealed the win after two hours, 26 minutes.
After the match, Tiafoe acknowledged the impact that the crowd had on his tennis and his ability to dig out the win despite being a break behind in the third set. "It was unbelievable. The crowd was packed... I just needed a reason to give, to leave it all out here and the crowd gave me that.
"Delray taught me a lot," said Tiafoe on his newfound confidence. "I beat some quality players back-to-back-to-back, which I've never done. I've played so many matches in my career so far where I played unbelievable, came up just short. Now I'm feeling really comfortable when it gets tight. I actually embrace it, I want it."
Next up for Tiafoe is No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych, who navigated past Yoshihito Nishioka with relative ease, winning 6-1, 6-4. Berdych was dominant on serve, never facing a break point and claiming 89 per cent of points on his first serve. Although Nishioka was able to save eight of 11 break points, he was unable rekindle the magic that saw him come from behind to win their previous FedEx ATP Head2Head matchup last year at the BNP Paribas Open.
No. 32 seed Karen Khachanov moved on to the third round after a straightforward defeat of Marius Copil, 7-5, 6-3. The 21-year-old, who earlier this season claimed his second ATP World Tour title in Marseille, overcame his big-serving opponent in just one hour, 15 minutes to register his 12th win of the season. He advances to play No. 6 seed Kevin Anderson, who struck 16 aces to ease past Nikoloz Basilashvili in one hour, 28 minutes.