Fresh off his amazing US Open run, Frances Tiafoe brought his entertaining play to London for the 2022 Laver Cup. The American joined Team World to face off against Team Europe, which was led by legends Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
The three-day event is based on a point system where matches on the first day are worth one point, day two is worth two points and yes, day three is worth three points. Heading into the final day of competition on Sunday, Team Europe led 8-4, with the World needing to win three of the four scheduled matches to get a victory.
Things got off to a great start, as Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime won back-to-back matches to give Team World a 10-8 lead. After that, it was all on Frances to close the competition out and give his guys their first win. Team Europe has won the previous four Laver Cups.
The Maryland native had a tough fight on his hands against Stefanos Tsitsipas, the No. 6 player in the world. Tiafoe got off to a slow start, losing the first set 6-1. However, the US Open semi-finalist quickly got back in the match, taking it to a wildly competitive tiebreak. With neither man giving an inch, Frances finally won the second set 7-6 (13-11). With his passion and showmanship on full display throughout the tiebreak, the London crowd was firmly behind the American.
With things even, a match tiebreak, where the first player to 10 wins, was set. The back and forth affair found Tiafoe’s pinpoint shot selection frustrating Tsitsipas. On match point, the Greek star hit the ball into the net, giving the 10-8 win to Frances and Team World.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Tiafoe said during an on-court interview. “John McEnroe dropped a lot of F-bombs saying we can’t lose again. Felix beat Novak today, and we all did it together. It wasn’t just me. I showed a lot of heart to get this done. I was getting my ass kicked for a while there, but I just kept going.”
Clinching the title for his team may have been Tiafoe’s second biggest honor of the weekend, as he also had the privilege of playing in Federer’s final match on Friday. Frances teamed with fellow American Jack Sock in a doubles contest against the Swiss legend and his longtime friend Nadal. Tiafoe and Sock defeated the legends 4-6, 7-6, 11-9 in one of the biggest matches of his career. As usual, he was unfazed by the monumental moment.
“I definitely really enjoy playing in big stadiums and big moments,” Tiafoe said during the post-match press conference. “I’ve always played some really good tennis in those moments. Today is why you put in the time and work hard, show your game when everyone is there watching.”
The Laver Cup is a more relaxed, fun event that is essentially a made for television competition. It’s tailor made for a player like Frances, which makes it extra special that he got to deliver the big win for his team. Since tennis is such a predominantly white sport, it’s always exciting and inspiring when Black players get to shine on big stages.