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By Tennis Now | Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 
Frances Tiafoe

American wild card Frances Tiafoe upset fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev for his first career Top 10 win.

Photo credit: Western & Southern Open

Wearing a wide smile, Frances Tiafoe pounded his palm over his heart, pumped his fists and hurled a series of roundhouse right hands as fans in Cincinnati showered him with an ovation.

All that activity came after an explosive Tiafoe toppled Alexander Zverev, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, to score his first career Top 10 victory and snap the fourth-seeded German’s 10-match winning streak.

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The 19-year-old American wild card erupted with enthusiasm after earning the biggest win of his career, trotting over to his support box where he high-fived friends and coach Michael Russell with vigor.




“I was really excited,” said Tiafoe after prevailing in his second career meeting with a Top 10 player. “That’s probably the best I ever felt on a tennis court.”

Fresh off capturing back-to-back championships in Washington, DC and Montreal where he defeated Roger Federer for his second Masters 1000 championship of the year, Zverev took the court as the hottest player on tour.

The 20-year-old Zverev fought hard but looked a little leg weary by the end of the one hour, 56-minute match.

Tiafoe converted six of nine break-point chances, including two breaks in the final set.

Unloading on his favored forehand and extending rallies with exceptional court coverage, the 19-year-old American defeated Zverev for the first time following straight-sets losses at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year.

Today, Tiafoe was in no mood to play the waiting game.

“It was a rollercoaster match,” Tiafoe told Tennis Channel’s Leif Shiras afterward. “My game plan was to keep the rallies going and keep him out there.

“Last time, I kind of let him dictate rallies the whole time. This time around I was hitting my shots and trying to compete hard.”




Commitment was evident in the final set as Tiafoe rallied from a break down.

When the world No. 87 flipped a backhand drop shot wide, Zverev broke for a 1-0 lead in the final set.

In the ensuing seven-minute game, Tiafoe poked a running forehand pass for break point and broke when Zverev stuck a backhand into net.

The man nicknamed “Big Foe” broke again in the final game to clinch the biggest win of his young career.

Tiafoe advanced to a round of 16 meeting with 14th-seeded compatriot John Isner. 

If there next meeting is anything like their last one, it could be a thriller.

A year ago, Isner edged Tiafoe, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (3) in the US Open first round.

"I've just got to weather the storm," Tiafoe said of facing the titanic-serving Isner. "He’s gonna drop some big boy heat on me and I’ve got to be ready for it."  

 

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