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By Erik Gudris | @atntennis | Sunday, January 14, 2024
One of the most anticipated men’s singles opening rounds at the Australian Open went in favor of No. 17 seed Frances Tiafoe who is hoping to make another deep run at a major.

The 25-year-old American star passed a stern test from unseeded but dangerous Borna Coric with a satisfying four set win 6-3, 7-6(7), 2-6, 6-3 victory.

“I feel really great. I wasn’t feeling too good in the third (set). I went somewhere else. I don’t know where. I’m still trying to figure it out. But I’m happy to get it done,” Tiafoe said after a physical three-hour, 28-minute battle.

This was the Grand Slam match for Tiafoe after his surprising split for former coach Wayne Ferreira, who guided him to his first major semifinal at the US Open in 2022 and also into the top 10. Tiafoe then hired Diego Moyano as his coach after previously working with Tiafoe in the USTA’s player development program. Moyano has worked with several prominent American players in the past.

For Coric, a former Top 15 player now ranked No. 39, it was a chance make an early statement in the New Year that he is a player to watch.

The match featured hard hitting from the backcourt as both men tried to establish dominance early on. Tiafoe secured one service break early in the opening set, and then the pivotal break later up 4-3 when Coric, down another break point, sent a backhand long.

Tiafoe then served out the set 6-3. The second set proved razor close eventually ended up in a tiebreak. Leading 8-7 in the breaker, Tiafoe ripped a running down the line forehand winner to secure the set and a two sets to love lead.

Tiafoe faded somewhat in the third set and that allowed Coric to quickly take it 6-2. However, Tiafoe reasserted himself in the fourth set. At 3-2, on serve, 40-all, Tiafoe won a grueling extended baseline rally that gave him break point on Coric’s serve.

Coric, under pressure, sent a crosscourt backhand wide handing Tiafoe the break for 4-2.

Tiafoe, later serving for the match at 5-3, eventually closed out the match with another forehand to complete the four set win.

Tiafoe, whose best result at the Australian Open was the quarters in 2019, will next face Tomas Machac in the second round.

Photo Credit: Mike Stove/Getty