Federer's Encouragement Spurs On Tiafoe
Basking in the surrounds of a closed-roof home-crowd atmosphere on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Frances Tiafoe admits a five-set defeat to Roger Federer only serves as motivation. The #NextGenATP American fell 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to the No. 3 seed but the words of encouragement he received at net reassured him he was on the right track.
“Great year so. You're only getting better and better. Keep going, you're going to have one hell of a future,” Tiafoe said the Swiss great told him. With rain washing out most of the day’s play, a closed roof only amplified the electric New York City atmosphere on Tuesday night. Tiafoe was feeding off the home support.
“The crowd was getting behind me pretty good,” Tiafoe said. “I like to get the crowd pretty into it, especially in the fourth, when I was playing pretty much [playing] lights out.
“I was getting pretty hyped. They were liking that. I'm pretty sure they would have liked me to have sneaked that one out. But, yeah, the guy's just too good.”
The 19 year old said he did not feel overly nervous about the showdown with the five-time champion. After he broke in the opening game of the match he certainly appeared to have settled the quicker of the two.
A break-back when the Swiss was serving for the match at 5-3 in the fifth set provided momentary hope and whipped the New York City crowd into a frenzy, but the contest was over a game later when Tiafoe surrendered serve at the two-hour, 40-minute mark. The American was left with little doubt in his mind as to Federer’s standing in the game.
“He is the greatest, yeah,” Tiafoe said before he elaborated on what made the 36 year old so tough. “Go down the list. I mean, I can't read his serve. He jumps on the return ball better than anyone, doesn't give the baseline up. I mean, he takes time away, best mover by far. Yeah, he just sees the game completely different than everybody else … He's unbelievable.”
It was the type match the World No. 70 in the Emirates ATP Rankings had dreamt of playing. The result would only drive him to work harder. “It's the only reason I play the game,” he said of the match.
“Every day I thought I would be here. I always told my dad that. Finally, I had the opportunity to do it. It means the world to me. I'm happy that my brother, my mum, my dad, everyone got to see it.”