TALLAHASSEE, May 2, 2015
With a two hour and seventeen minute three-set win over fellow Countryman Tennys Sandgren Friday afternoon, 17-year-old American Frances Tiafoe booked his spot in the Tallahassee Tennis Challenger final and earned the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card in to the French Open.
After a slow start, Tiafoe, who turned professional earlier in April, was able to overcome the speed and tenacity of Sandgren to clinch the semifinal win 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(1).
Tiafoe’s road to the final pinned him up against No.1 seed Facundo Bagnis, former FSU No.1 player Jean-Yves Aubone, and Ecuador’s Emilio Gomez before he faced off with Sandgren.
“It was a complete roller coaster,” Tiafoe said.
“It was like being at Six Flags. It was completely crazy. I came out slow and he was playing pretty good in the first set. I just kept battling. We both played well in the second and last sets. He has his chances and I had my chances. I’m just happy to get through.”
Tiafoe has become a fan favourite a Forestmeadows advanced to his very first ATP Challenger final and could become the youngest player to claim the title in Tallahassee. He is also the fourth youngest US-American to reach a final at this Level behind Michal Chang, Andre Agassi and Stefan Kozlov.
“It’s great,” the teenager said. “The fans keep pushing me through. It’s always great when you have that extra support. You play better. It’s just more fun play.”
Tiafoe will face No.5 seed Facundo Arguello. The 22-year-old from Argentina stunned rising American Jared Donaldson in their semifinal meeting. Arguello broke the 18-year-old five times en route to the 6-3, 6-2 win in one hour and 27 minutes.
The No.5 seed had an all-American road to the final, having defeated Stefan Kozlov, Tommy Paul, and Mitchell Krueger before facing off with Donaldson Friday.
He advances to his first Challenger final in nearly a year, having won two titles previously in Itajai in 2014 and Porto Alegre in 2013.
“I’m feeling very good,” Arguello said. “I really want to win this tournament. “
“It’s difficult to play with guys younger than me,” he said. “It’s nice, because they’ve to come up, but I have to win the matches, even if they’re young.”
Tiafoe and Arguello meet for the first time in their careers Saturday, following the doubles final at 12:00 noon.
In the doubles final it will be a first-time meeting between Dennis Novikov/Julio Peralta (Chile) and Somdev Devvarman/Sanam Singh. Both teams are looking for their first Challenger doubles title together.
Novikov/Peralta defeated FSU’s No.1 team of Lock/Nunez in the first round, Bangoura/Statham in the second, and the American duo of Kuznetsov/Sandgren Friday night. This is their second consecutive doubles final together.
Devvarman/Singh kicked off their doubles campaign by defeating No.2 seeds King/O’Brien in the first round, King/Seeberger in the second, and the Argentinian pair of Arguello/Collarini in the semifinals.