20 Feb Throwback Thursday for Tiafoe
2018 Champ Shows Form that Won Title
By STEVE DORSEY
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Frances Tiafoe captured his first ATP Tour title two years ago at the Delray Beach Open. He has not won another since, but based on his performance here so far this week, Tiafoe could be trending toward a repeat of 2018.
Tiafoe won his second consecutive straight-sets match Thursday afternoon, beating fellow American Tommy Paul 7-5, 7-6(4) to secure a spot in Friday’s quarterfinals where he will face Frenchman Ugo Humbert, the No. 6 seed here this week.
Tiafoe rated his performance against Paul as a “7 or 8” on a scale of 10. His forehand looked near perfect, especially in the second-set tiebreaker when he delivered several well-positioned shots.
“I cranked out some big ones. My forehand was definitely on,” said Tiafoe, who arrived here ranked No. 84 in the world. “It felt good. I’m playing better. Tommy’s playing great, and it’s never easy playing a good friend. We both competed well. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good match.”
Tiafoe defeated Emilio Gomez of Ecuador in the first round and he faced a strong challenger Thursday in Paul, who is ranked No. 70 in the world and had a 6-3 record this year, including a straight-sets win the first round, entering the match against Tiafoe.
“Both matches I’ve played pretty good,” said Tiafoe, who lives only about 10 minutes away in Boynton Beach and improved his record here to 7-1 with Thursday’s victory. “I played better today than I did in my first-round match, so I take positives from that.”
Tiafoe said he has faced Humbert, the only remaining seeded player in the top half of the draw, indoors before and expects it to be a tough match.
“He’s already won one title this year, but I like the conditions here for me against him,” Tiafoe said.