Frances Tiafoe breaks five-year Indian Wells curse
Frances Tiafoe finally registered a second career win at Indian Wells after losing in the first round at each of the last three tournaments.
The 23-year-old American made his Indian Wells debut in 2016 as an 18-year-old wildcard, where he defeated fellow home wildcard Taylor Fritz in three sets before losing to 15th seed David Goffin.
Since then, Tiafoe lost to Dusan Lajovic in 2017, Ernesto Escobedo in 2018 and Nicolas Jarry in 2019. On all three occasions, his first round opponent was ranked lower than him, with Lajovic and Escobedo both ranked outside the top-100.
Now, Tiafoe has another win under his belt at the Masters 1000 event, defeating Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-4 in front of an expectant American crowd.
With the result bringing him to a 2021 win-loss record of 24-19, the world number 49 is on course to register just a second winning season at ATP tour level since his debut at the 2014 Citi Open in Washington, DC.
His previous best season came in 2018, finishing the year with a win-loss record of 28-27 along with making his only two final appearances and first ATP title to date, the trophy coming at the Delray Beach Open.
A career-high ranking of 29 in the world came soon after in February 2019. Indian Wells marks a 25th Masters 1000 tournament appearance for the American.
Tiafoe’s best result at Masters level came at the Miami Open in 2019 reaching the quarter-finals before losing to Denis Shapovalov.
Following victory over Paire, Frances Tiafoe will next face 20-year-old Sebastian Korda in an all-American affair.
Korda is the 32nd seed at the event in just his fourth Masters tournament appearance. He currently sits at a career-high ranking of 40 in the world.
His best Masters result also came at the Miami Open, this time in 2021, and also saw him reach the quarter-finals.
He defeated 10th seed Fabio Fognini, 17th seed Aslan Karatsev and fifth seed Diego Schwartzman consecutively to make the last eight.
Korda then lost to fourth seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets to end the run.
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