Wimbledon

Tiafoe dedicates Wimbledon win to immigrant parents

2018-07-05 19:44
Frances Tiafoe
Frances Tiafoe (AP)

London - Frances Tiafoe used to fall asleep on the floor of an American tennis centre while imagining what it would be like to play at Wimbledon - now the rising star's dreams are coming true at the culmination of an incredible journey.

Tiafoe moved into the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time on Thursday with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over French veteran Julien Benneteau at Wimbledon.

It was a sweet moment for the 20-year-old American, and even more so because his mother Alphina was there to share in the triumph.

Tiafoe know that, but for the sacrifices of Alphina and his father Constant, he wouldn't be fulfilling his childhood ambitions.

"It's great to be at Wimbledon and just dream-chasing. We had one goal as a kid and here we are," Tiafoe said.

"My mum's enjoying it. I know she's having a blast. She's on site talking her mouth off right now."

Constant fled to the United States from war-torn Sierra Leone in 1993, with his Alphina joining her husband three years later to avoid the civil conflict.

Tiafoe was born two years after that and, with his father working as the head of maintenance at the US Tennis Association's Regional Training Centre in Maryland, it wasn't long before the youngster was given his introduction to tennis.

With his mother often working night shifts as a nurse, Tiafoe and his twin brother would live with their father in a cramped office at the Tennis Centre that served as their apartment - the siblings sleeping on mattresses on the floor or treatment tables for five night a week.

Yet from the hardship, Tiafoe forged a passion for tennis.

From the age of four, Tiafoe would pass the time hitting tennis balls against the walls of their temporary home and by the time he was 11 he had told his family he was going to be a top player.

All these years later, Tiafoe's prediction has come true and he is quick to pay tribute to his parents' selfless attitude.

"It's cool. I tell them all the time, it's not even about me. They sacrificed way more than I did," he said.

"They had to come to the States, my mum was working double over-time being a nurse while my dad was a maintenance worker living at College Park. They did loads for me and my twin brother.

"We couldn't be anymore thankful. Right now I'm just returning the favour. I don't have an excuse never to not compete in a match."

Benneteau made his Wimbledon debut in 2004 when Tiafoe was just six.

But the world No 63 was no match for the powerful Tiafoe, who faces Russia's Karen Khachanov or Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis for a place in the last 16.

Tiafoe has already beaten Spanish 30th seed Fernando Verdasco in the first round - maintaining the momentum of a breakthrough season that saw him became the youngest American for 16 years to win an ATP title at Delray Beach in February.

Yet even Tiafoe, up to a career high 52nd in the rankings, is surprised by his Wimbledon run.

He loves the tournament's unique atmosphere but admits to despising grass courts when he first played on the surface.

"I like being here. There's good vibes here, it's pretty prestigious," he said.

"But I hadn't played on grass until 2014. I hated it. It was quick, low bouncing. I didn't even think it was tennis.

Having found his footing, Tiafoe wants to keep chasing his dream deep into the tournament.

"It took a while for me to wrap my head around it. But it's an honour to play at Wimbledon," he added.

"Usually I would use the grass season as a pass-time but now I want to make a difference."

Wimbledon results on Thursday, the fourth day of the 2018 championships (x denotes seeded player):

Men

Second round

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER x25) bt Gilles Muller (LUX) 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3)

Kevin Anderson (RSA x8) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4

Guido Pella (ARG) bt Marin Cilic (CRO x3) 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5

John Isner (USA x9) bt Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-7 (3/7), 7-5

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x31) bt Jared Donaldson (USA) 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3

Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) bt Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 7-6 (8/6)

Karen Khachanov (RUS) bt Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5

Frances Tiafoe (USA) bt Julien Benneteau (FRA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

Kyle Edmund (GBR x21) bt Bradley Klahn (USA) 6-4, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2

Novak Djokovic (SRB x12) bt Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 6-1, 6-2, 6-3

Nick Kyrgios (AUS x15) bt Robin Haase (NED) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5

Kei Nishikori (JPN x24) bt Bernard Tomic (AUS) 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7), 7-5

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Damir Džumhur (BIH x27) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3

Juan Martín Del Potro (ARG x5) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4, 6-1, 6-2

Benoît Paire (FRA) bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN x26) 0-6, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Gilles Simon (FRA) bt Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2

Matthew Ebden (AUS) bt Stéphane Robert (FRA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-1

Jirí Veselý (CZE) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG x14) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Fabio Fognini (ITA x19) bt Simone Bolelli (ITA) 6-3, 6-4, 6-1

Alex De Minaur (AUS) bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 7-5, 6-3

Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4

Suspended for darkness:

Taylor Fritz (USA) leads Alexander Zverev (GER x4) 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/0)

Women

Second round

Simona Halep (ROM x1) bt Zheng Saisai (CHN) 7-5, 6-0

Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) bt Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 6-3, 6-3

Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) bt Johanna Konta (GBR x22) 6-3, 6-4

Elise Mertens (BEL x15) bt Sachia Vickery (USA) 6-1, 6-3

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x12) bt Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-1, 6-3

Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) bt Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-4, 6-1

Daria Gavrilova (AUS x26) bt Samantha Stosur (AUS) 6-4, 6-1

Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 6-0, 6-4

Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) bt Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP x3) 5-7, 6-2, 6-1

Anett Kontaveit (EST x28) bt Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-2, 7-6 (7/4)

Ashleigh Barty (AUS x17) bt Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 6-4, 7-5

Daria Kasatkina (RUS x14) bt Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-2, 6-3

Angelique Kerber (GER x11) bt Claire Liu (USA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4

Naomi Osaka (JPN x18) bt Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-3, 6-4

Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP x27) bt Sara Sorribes (ESP) 6-4, 6-1

Belinda Bencic (SUI) bt Alison Riske (USA) 1-6, 7-6 (12/10), 6-2

Barbora Strycova (CZE x23) bt Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-1, 6-4

Katerina Siniakova (CZE) bt Ons Jabeur (TUN) 5-7, 6-4, 9-7

Read more on:    wimbledon  |  frances tiafoe  |  tennis
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