Tiafoe Seeks 'Big Time Moments', Top 40 Looms
It has been a breakthrough ATP World Tour season for #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe. The 20-year-old has consistently made waves in 2018, winning his first tour-level crown at the Delray Beach Open in February, before a run to the Millennium Estoril Open in May.
Now, as he bids to reach the third round at the Rogers Cup for the first time, the Maryland native is within touching distance of another career milestone. The World No. 41, who faces 2013 finalist Milos Raonic in the second round, is bidding to break into the Top 40 of the ATP Rankings for the first time.
"For a long time I was playing a lot of tight matches and wasn't getting [to the next round]," Tiafoe told ATPWorldTour.com. "This year, I've won a fair amount, quite a lot, and now I feel like I have a chance against anyone. I believed that in the past couple of years but now it is really coming through."
With a 23-14 match record, Tiafoe is in second place — behind John Isner (25-13) — for most tour-level wins by an American this season. Tiafoe, who won just seven of 24 tour-level matches in 2017, revealed the biggest lesson he has learned over the past 18 months has been based around his mentality, with strong belief and a relaxed attitude towards success.
"I want to be out here for the next 15 or 16 years and [the success] does not have to be right now," said Tiafoe. "Obviously it is a process. I need to trust that process, dig deep every day and give myself enough big-time moments."
But, while success is the goal of every player on the ATP World Tour, Tiafoe strongly believes that having fun on the court is a necessary ingredient in his game moving forwards.
"I need to have fun out there and focus on competing. When I'm doing that, I feel like that's my winning recipe," said Tiafoe.
As one of the emerging stars from the United States, Tiafoe has received his fair share of advice from former professionals on the ATP World Tour. Throughout those conversations, one recurring theme emerged.
"To take my time," revealed Tiafoe. "Not to rush the success, [and instead] just worry about getting better. Success will come with that."
After narrowly missing out on a place at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan last year, the Delray Beach Open winner is keen to make sure he confirms his position in the field in 2018. Currently sitting fifth in the ATP Race to Milan, with seven qualification positions up for grabs, the American looks well placed to make his debut this time around.
"I'm really excited," said Tiafoe. "Last year I missed [the cut] by one and now I definitely hope to make it. It would be great opportunity."