Delray Beach, Fl. – Showing absolutely no signs of being nervous playing in his first-ever ATP main tour final, Frances Tiafoe captured the 2018 Delray Beach Open title by downing Peter Gojowczyk of Germany, 6-1, 6-4, in 61 minutes.
Tiafoe dominated the match from first ball served, breaking Gojowczyk in his first two service games while holding serve on his first three and raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set. During the change-over, Gojowczyk called for the trainer. It helped just a little as he held his serve before Tiafoe won the first set on his 10th ace.
In the third game of the second set, Tiafoe broke Gojowczyk’s serve again and took a 2-1 lead. During his next service game, it was the only time Tiafoe showed any signs of playing in his first-ever final. He double-faulted twice and found himself down 0-40 before saving two of those break points before Gojowczyk cracked a winner to even the set at 2-2.
Instead of letting that get to him, Tiafoe immediately broke right back, at love, and re-took the lead, 3-2. He would not squander the lead again as it was an easy put away to give him the title.
The only negative in Tiafoe’s game today was his seven double faults (he did serve 13 aces), but that shows how aggressive he likes to be.
Tiafoe, ranked 94th coming into this week’s tournament, accepted a wild card from the organizers and when the draw was revealed, it certainly didn’t look good for Francis.
His first-round opponent was Australia’s Matthew Ebden (ranked #88). In Tiafoe’s first match of 2018 at the Brisbane International Open, Ebden easily defeated Tiafoe, 6-2, 6-3. This time it would go the distance and Frances advanced with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 victory to set up a second-round date with Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.
At the 2018 Australian Open, Tiafoe drew del Potro in the first round and the #10 ranked player in the world had little trouble beating Tiafoe, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Redemption seemed to be the word of the week for Tiafoe as he took out del Potro, seeded #2, in three sets as well, 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 7-5 and for the second week in a row, he made the quarterfinals.
Just last week, Tiafoe made his first tour-level quarterfinals at the inaugural New York Open. He was defeated by Kevin Anderson of South Africa, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
His opponent this week was the #8 seed Hyeon Chung of South Korea. Chung made headlines early this year by reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, where he lost to eventual champion, Roger Federer.
Mother Nature played a small role in the Chung-Tiafoe quarterfinal match. With Tiafoe up 5-7, 6-4, 5-3, the skies opened up and play was suspended for the rest of the day due to rain. That meant both players had to come back Saturday morning to finish the third set, with the winner having to play later that day in the semifinals.
Tiafoe won the third set, 6-4 and he was in his first main tour-level semifinals against fellow #NextGenATP rising star Denis Shapovalov of Canada. It was the first time Tiafoe didn’t drop a set and won 7-5, 6-4.
With the 250 ranking points Tiafoe earns with the victory, he should be ranked around 60 in the world, if not higher. He reached a career high of #60 last year (weekly rankings of July 24th).
The next tournament on Frances’ schedule will be the ATP 1000 Masters at Indian Wells, California. Depending on where he winds up on the singles rankings, he may not have to qualify for the main draw. Of course, like this week, the organizers could give him a wild card direct entry into the main draw too. Either way, 2018 should be the year the name Frances Tiafoe of Rockville, Maryland becomes a house-hold one.