Take Five: Frances Tiafoe finishes runner-up on clay in Estoril
Welcome to Take Five, a weekly series on USTA.com recapping five of the biggest stories from American tennis over the last week on the professional tennis circuit. As the clay-court swing continued, Frances Tiafoe reached the final in Estoril, Portugal while the first of two combined ATP and WTA 1000-level events began in Madrid.
1. Frances Tiafoe finishes as runner-up in Estoril
Frances Tiafoe played for an ATP singles title for the fourth time in his career last week in Estoril, Portugal, where he finished as runner-up to Argentina's Sebastian Baez.
Despite a 6-3, 6-2 defeat in the championship match, Tiafoe thrilled a packed house in each of his four wins to make in that far, where he was taken to three sets each time. In Round 1, he came from a set and a break down to defeat Serbia's Dusan Lajovic; beat Spain's Alejando Davidovich Fokina, the runner-up at the recent ATP Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo, 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-5 from 5-2 down in the third; and produced one of the comebacks of the season so far to defeat compatriot Sebastian Korda in the semifinals. Against Korda, Tiafoe trailed 6-4, 5-2 before he rallied for a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 victory, saving three match points.
Though he lost the final, Tiafoe rocketed to a career-high world No. 25 in the ATP rankings by advancing to the final.
2. Sebastian Korda comes up just short in semifinals
Despite losing out to Tiafoe in the final four, it was still a week to remember for Korda in Portugal: As a result of reaching the semifinals, he rises seven spots to a new career-high in the ATP rankings this week of No. 30. The move pushes him ahead of Tommy Paul into the position of U.S. No. 5 behind Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, John Isner and Tiafoe.
Korda didn't lose a set in his three victories as the No.8 seed; notably, he defeated top seed world No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-2, for his third career Top 10 win, first on clay and first of the season.
3. Three U.S. women through to Round 3 in Madrid
The ATP and WTA are both in action this week at the Mutua Madrid Open, a combined Masters 1000 and WTA 1000-event in in the Spanish capital, and three American women—Amanda Anisimova, Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula—are through to the third round since main-draw play began on Thursday.
Unseeded Anisimova had the trio's most notable win so far by dethroning defending champion Aryna Sabalenka in the first round, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, improving her career record against Sabalenka to 4-0. She also came from a set down in her second round victory against Croatia's Petra Martic to book a spot opposite former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the last 16.
No. 12 seed Pegula and No. 14 seed Gauff each counted a three-setter among their wins in the first two rounds; in particular, the latest chapter of Pegula's rivalry with Italy's Camila Giorgi went the American's way in thrilling fashion in Round 1. In a wild 7-5, 2-6, 6-5 victory for Pegula, Giorgi led 4-1 in the final set and had a chance to win the match serving at 5-3.
Pegula and Gauff join Anisimova in facing former major-winners up next: Gauff faces former world No. 1 Simona Halep, while Pegula takes on 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.
4. John Isner starts American men off with win in Madrid
With the men's main draw in Madrid starting on Sunday, the only player in action on the tournament's first day was John Isner—and he's through to Round 2.
The big-serving 37-year-old hammered 30 aces and saved two set points in the first set of a 7-6(8), 6-3 opening win over Serbia's Filip Krajinovic, and advances to a second-round meeting No. 9 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain in Round 2.
In all, six American men are competing in singles at the Mutua Madrid Open. Five (Isner, Korda, Tiafoe, Opelka Jenson Brooksby) received direct entry while Maxime Cressy booked a spot in the clay-court Masters 1000 event through qualifying. Indian Wells champion Fritz was expected to compete as the No. 11 seed, but the highest-ranking American withdrew on Saturday with a left foot injury.
5. Up next: U.S. wheelchair teams at BNP Paribas World Team Cup
The red, white and blue will fly proudly this week in Vilamoura, Portugal, where the U.S. has four teams competing at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup, the wheelchair tennis counterpart to the Billie Jean King Cup and the Davis Cup. The flagship international team event in wheelchair tennis has four divisions—men's, women's, quad and junior—and the U.S. will compete in all four from May 2-8 at the Vilamoura Tennis Academy in Vilamoura, Portugal.
Men's: Chris Herman, Jason Keatseangsilp, Casey Ratzlaff, Conner Stroud, Jon Rydberg (coach)
Women's: Shelby Baron, Emmy Kaiser, Dana Mathewson and Paul Walker (coach)
Quad: Bryan Barten, Huayi “Eric” Court, David Wagner and Kevin Heim (coach)
Juniors: Charlie Cooper, Lily Lautenschlager, Tomas Majetic, Maylee Phelps and John Devorss (coach)
Last year, the U.S. quad team finished as the runners-up and the women won a bronze medal. Fans interested in following this year's event can track Team USA's progress by visiting the USTA's BNP Paribas World Team Cup homepage or the 2022 ITF World Team Cup site.
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