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Frances Tiafoe earns Top 10 debut with Stuttgart title

Arthur Kapetanakis | June 19, 2023

You can always count on Frances Tiafoe to put on a show each time he steps on the tennis court. On Sunday in the Stuttgart final, the must-see entertainment ramped up to a dramatic conclusion at the grass-court ATP 250 event.


Facing home favorite Jan-Lennard Struff, the third-seeded Tiafoe saved a match point in a thrilling 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(8) triumph, winning over the German fans as he won the title.


The result also earned the 25-year-old a debut inside the Top 10 of the ATP rankings, where he now joins world No. 8 Taylor Fritz. With Tiafoe at No. 10, it marks the first time two American men have occupied the Top 10 since Mardy Fish and John Isner were No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, in May 2012.

“Super emotional. Super emotional for a guy like me with my story and everything,” said Tiafoe, a product of the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in Maryland. The American, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Sierra Leone, began training at the USTA National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) facility after his father took a maintenance job at the site.


“[I am] a guy who shouldn't even really be here doing half the things he's doing. And now when you say his name, you can say he's Top 10 in the world," Tiafoe continued, alluding to his humble beginnings. "So [that is] something that no one can take from you and I'm going to remember that forever. And hopefully, I can ride that for a long time.”

In Stuttgart, Tiafoe sealed victory with a stabbed volley winner on match point, after Struff's dangerous reply from the American's overhead threatened to level the decisive tiebreak at 8-8. Tiafoe's title run went through Jiri Lehecka, sixth seed Lorenzo Musetti and Marton Fucsovics before Struff. He lost just two sets in his four matches, coming from a set down to beat both Musetti and Struff.


The trophy is Tiafoe's second of the season (Houston, clay) and his first on grass courts. He has now won one ATP title on each of the three surfaces, with his first trophy coming in 2018 on the hard courts of Delray Beach.


"It shows I am a complete player and when I am locked in I can compete on all three surfaces," Tiafoe said of the achievement.


Among other notable American ATP Tour results last week, Fritz reached the quarterfinals in Stuttgart, while Mackenzie McDonald reached the 's-Hertogenbosch quarters. On the WTA Tour, Ashlyn Krueger and Emina Bektas reached the 's-Hertogenbosch quarterfinals, while 22-year-old Elizabeth Mandlik made the last eight in Nottingham.

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