Frances Tiafoe: Third African-American to Rank in ATP Top 10

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For a while now, Frances Tiafoe has been tipped to be the next best male American tennis player. He backed those claims when he entered the top 10 ranking in June 2023.

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However, Tiafoe now is at number 13, but his climb to be one of the top players hasn’t gone unnoticed. The American press and tennis followers are excited about what he can achieve in the coming seasons. In this post, we look deeply into his life and career.

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Francis Tiafoe’s Childhood

Tiafoe’s tennis story begins with his father Constant Frances Senior. He immigrated to the United States from Sierra Leone in 1993 to escape the Civil War. Six years later, he was part of the team that constructed the Junior Tennis Championship Center (JTCC) and was later given residence within the facility. Tiafoe recalled when he talked to Andscape.com.

“We lived in a small room. We slept on massage tables. Over the weekends, we stayed at my mother’s place and on her off days,” Tiafoe told Andscape.

By this time, Francis Tiafoe’s mother had joined them. He and his brother capitalized on their access to tennis facilities and picked up tennis. Renowned tennis coach Misha Kouznetsov spotted Tiafoe and began coaching him. The pair worked together for nine years before Tiafoe went to Florida to train at the USTA National Tennis Center.

“Tiafoe wasn’t more talented than others. It’s that, he was always there. When I arrived in training I found him there and when I left, he was still there.” Kouznetsov said about Tiafoe.

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Junior Tennis Career

Francis Tiafoe had a successful junior career. He competed in nine finals and won four to underline his credentials as a future star. This saw him achieve a junior ranking of 2. His first junior title came at the Les Petits As in France. He went on and won the following events:

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Professional Career

After success at the junior level, Tiafoe turned pro in 2015. He lost his first professional tennis match. However, he picked up his lessons and progressively improved himself. 

So far, Tiafoe has three ATP titles to his name. In 2018, he won his first title at Delray Beach, and then Houston Clay and Stuttgart followed. His last win saw him achieve his highest career ranking of number 10. This made him the third African-American to rank in the ATP top 10. 

The Big Foe is yet to win a grand slam title. His best-ever finish is a semifinalist position at the 2022 U.S. Open. 

The American recorded one of the biggest wins of his career when he beat Spanish great Rafael Nadal. That said, many are tipping him to become a grand slam champion in the coming years. 

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Playing Style

Frances Tiafoe: Third African-American to Rank in ATP Top 10
Frances Tiafoe playing at Acapulco. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

The American earned the name ‘Big Foe’ owing to his aggressive playing style. He uses a two-handed backhand and loves to play from the back of the court. He outmuscles his opponents by playing a powerful serve. The player rarely goes closer to the net or moves away from the baseline. 

Francis Tiafoe can be one of the best players in the world. His performances in the coming years will determine whether or not this comes to pass. 

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