Second seed Frances Tiafoe found himself in an identical situation to last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals when he took the court on Thursday against Swede Mikael Ymer, but gave himself a different outcome this time.
The American could have advanced to the semi-finals last year if he’d beaten Jaume Munar, but found himself overwhelmed by the occasion and fell in straight sets. But with a semi-final berth on the line again this year, Tiafoe embraced the pressure and produced a convincing 4-2, 4-2, 4-2 win over Ymer.
“I’m pretty stoked. I needed this. The second half of this season has been rough for me, so every match is an opportunity for me,” Tiafoe said. “I love this event and I want to stay. The more you win, the longer you can stay, so I’m happy to be in the semis.
“I thought I came up with the good points when I needed them… I did a good job, nothing fancy and just stayed locked in.”
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He joined Jannik Sinner as the two players to advance out of Group B. Tiafoe will face close friend and top seed Alex de Minaur in Friday’s semi-final action. The Aussie prevailed in their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at last year’s US Open.
“I wanted to see him in the final, but unfortunately it has to be in the semis,” Tiafoe said. “He’s a workhorse. He’s going to get every ball, keep every rally extremely long and make me beat him. I’m ready for the task. We’re going to go after each other, but we’ll still be great friends after.”
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Tiafoe joined Thursday's trend of dominant runs at the Allianz Cloud, going on a five-game winning streak from 1-2 in the opening set. Consistently landing first serves at more than 200 kph to set up winning forehands, the second seed dictated the tempo of play and kept Ymer pinned behind the baseline in rallies.
The second seed also showed his growth in the most critical moments of the match. Tiafoe didn't convert his two chances to break last year against Munar, but made good on 50 per cent (3/6) of his opportunities against Ymer. He was equally impressive in deciding points against the Swede, winning four of five on the night.
Tiafoe secured his final break at 2-2 in the third set and raised his arms in triumph after another strong serve wrapped up play after 67 minutesreadfullarticle