- Frances Tiafoe has entered the top 10 of the ATP Tour rankings
- The 25-year-old made this history after winning the Stuttgart Open and overtook Russian Karen Khachanov
- He defeated Jan-Lennard Struff
Frances Tiafoe has entered the top 10 of the ATP Tour rankings, making him the first African-American tennis player to achieve this milestone in over 14 years.
The 25-year-old made this history after winning the Stuttgart Open and overtook Russian Karen Khachanov into the top 10.
James Blake, back in January 2009, was the last African-American tennis player to hold a position in the top 10 in the men’s singles rankings.
He defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (8) in Sunday’s Stuttgart Open which was his first title on a grass court.
After the longest rally of the match, Tiafoe hit into the net on his first match point at 6-5 in the crucial tiebreaker. At 7-6, Struff had a chance to win the match as well, but Tiafoe rescued him with a backhand.
Before a frantic conclusion on his third match point, when he hit a smash only for Struff to somehow return it, and Tiafoe capped off the victory with an instinctive volley at the net, a return error cost Tiafoe his second match point.
Despite not having a single break of serve against Struff, who had 28 aces, Tiafoe won the championship.
In contrast, Tiafoe is still developing and will look to keep up his winning ways as we approach a crucial few months with Wimbledon and the US Open rapidly approaching.
“I got super lucky there on match point. I still don´t know how I hauled it over the net but I´ll take it,” he said post-match.
In addition to reaching the third round of the French Open this month, he had a personal best result at Flushing Meadows last year, as he reached the semi-finals.
The US now has two ATP tennis players in the top 10 for the first time in more than ten years thanks to Tiafoe’s ascent in the rankings.
His Stuttgart Open win puts his tournament wins to three. The American won his first tournament in 2018 at the Delray Beach Open.
Tiafoe became the first American male tennis player to win the event at his age, a record no one had broken since 2002 courtesy of Andy Roddick.
Further, he won the second tournament in Houston at the Men’s Clay Court Championship. His victory in Stuttgart and subsequent ranking is a huge statement to the Black community.
His parents are Sierra Leonean immigrants who settled in Maryland, US where his father worked in a factory as the head of maintenance.
Many tennis pundits widely regarded Tifaoe as a promising player with a big opportunity to become the next American tennis star.
This was fueled by his exceptional background and achievements as a youth. He won the tournament’s youngest-ever boys’ singles championship in 2013, winning the Orange Bowl at the age of 15.
Just like he made history in 2023, he got into books of history after entering the French Open main draw at the age of 17.
Tiafoe won the US Junior National Championship and had massive success on the ATP Challenger Tour, where he made it to nine finals and took home four titles.
After his ATP Tour debut in the top 100 in 2016, he made it to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Australian Open and the semifinals of the 2022 US Open.