Tiafoe Survives 55 Winners From Watanuki To Advance
Frances Tiafoe withstood a ferocious returning assault from Japan's Yosuke Watanuki to sneak into the third round of the Miami Open presented by Itau in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Tiafoe needed six match points to see off the swashbuckling 24-year-old World No. 123, who crushed 55 winners (including 28 off the forehand side) and kept the American on his toes by taking huge cuts on returns.
"It was brutal tonight, just one of those nights you try to get over the line," Tiafoe said. "I was a little frustrated as I had never seen him play and he played very well and was hitting incredibly from the baseline.
“He was playing lights out and I was on the back foot a lot. He played a helluva match tonight, so give respect where respect is due. He was so red hot but I was hoping his level might drop in glimpses and I did a good job of taking advantage when it did.”
A semi-finalist at last week's BNP Paribas Open, Tiafoe is sitting at a career-high No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, with the goal of setting a new mark in Miami. He next faces Italian Lorenzo Sonego, who backed up his first-round win over former US Open champion Dominic Thiem with a three-set win over Daniel Evans.
Tiafoe's countryman Ben Shelton did not enjoy similar success, falling to wily French veteran Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
British 11th seed Cameron Norrie suffered a surprise 6-3, 6-2 defeat to another Frenchman, Gregorie Barrere, who came into Miami having lost first round at the Phoenix Challenger and the BNP Paribas Open.