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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday October 6, 2022

 
Frances Tiafoe

Frances Tiafoe continues to excel in tiebreaks - and win tennis matches.

Photo Source: Getty

Bolstered by confidence and believing in his form, Frances Tiafoe looks – and plays – like an athlete who is ready to get to the next level.

On Thursday in Tokyo he looked the part to a T as he marched past Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-1, 7-6(7) to set up a quarterfinal clash with Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic.

Tennis Express

It was business as usual for the No.4 seed at the Rakuten Open on Thursday. He played solidly for most of the match, and answered the bell late in the contest when Zapata Miralles, a barrel-chested baseliner who is on the blossom, threatened to force a third set.

The pair were neck and neck in a second-set tiebreak, but these days Tiafoe has made the tiebreak his personal proving ground and he did so again as he put the challenge to bed and completed his 29th victory of the season.

13 tiebreaks on the Trot

Tiafoe has been on a tear when it comes to tiebreaks, since the summer. He famously won eight on the trot at the US Open, a feat that had never been accomplished by any man before.

“It’'s not easy to go 8-0 in breakers,” Tiafoe said at the US Open, after losing in five sets to Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals. “I played a lot in this tournament. I wish the fifth was a breaker because maybe I would have been 9-and-0.”

After the Open, Tiafoe won all four of his tiebreaks at Laver Cup – two in a doubles match against Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and another two against Stefanos Tsitsipas in singles.

In total, his streak is at 15, counting doubles, and 13 in singles.


Surely the streak will come to an end at some point, but what stands to last is the confidence that Tiafoe can come through adversity and find his best tennis under pressure.

"I think handling those big moments, tie-breaks and stuff like that, [the key is] focussing on what you can focus on and just playing to win, playing aggressive," Tiafoe said, according to the ATP’s website. "I have a lot of shots in the book, so I'm trying to make the match on my terms and have that belief." At 24 years of age, the American has room to climb in the ATP rankings. His recent run at the US Open might be just the beginning of a push to the top of the sport.

A month after becoming the first American man to reach the US Open semifinals since 2006, he will bid to become the first American champion at Tokyo since Pete Sampras in 1996.

 

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