Tiafoe Reacts To Winning In Stockton
#NextGen star Frances Tiafoe sits down with USTA Pro Circuit broadcaster Mike Cation after winning his second ATP Challenger Tour title in Stockton
There are so many firsts for you here, but more importantly for me, this is the first time in your career that you’ve had four straight-sets win. What does that say about your focus this week?
Finally, I’m not having to squeak matches out like I have been. Like I said in Cary, I still wasn’t fully there mentally. I really buckled down this week after seeing my friend Darian King win the title in Tiburon, thinking I really could have won that. That got me locked in here and I was very business-like this week. This was a really good mental week for me. I dug in deep and took it to all my opponents.
What does reaching the Top 100 (of the Emirates ATP Rankings) mean to you?
It means the world to me. It’s something you dream about as a kid, to see your ranking on the front page. But that’s not where I want to end. I’ve had a couple of other good weeks, so I want to keep going and keep putting the wins together.
You still have points to defend before the Australian Open, so how are you going to regroup for next week’s Challenger in Fairfield?
I’ll have a little fun today and get the mind right. Have a light hit tomorrow and just get the body right. I’m defending semi-final points next week, so you just have to go one match at a time and enjoy the process.
How important was it for you to get that early break and off to a fast start like you today?
It was really good. I was pumped to win that first game. I thought I was really composed out there, didn’t freak out or act out at anytime. I’ve been in a lot of Challenger finals lately, so I’m feeling more and more comfortable in them. And then ever since I finally got over the hump and won one in Granby, I feel like I can win all of these Challenger events if I’m mentally and physically there.
You changed directions really well today, especially on your backhand side. How important was that for you?
It was huge. I know Noah loves the backhand cross-court rallies and gets you in them almost every time. I hit my forehand and slice backhand extremely well today, really used the whole court and did a good job of being unpredictable and keeping him on his toes. That’s why the scoreline came out like it did.
Your brother has been with you for the last couple of weeks. What's it been like having another set of eyes with you and just someone to talk to at the end of the day?
It’s been huge. Being with him this summer for five or six weeks really helped me. It’s tough out here. You’re traveling every week, so just to have a friend who knows you best and has your back during the rough patches is great. I think that’s something I’m going to need to have in my corner for the rest of my career.
Do you celebrate with In-N-Out tonight?
One hundred percent. [Laughs]. You have to celebrate with In-N-Out. There’s really no place else you can go.