Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Frances Tiafoe of America meet at center courtroom after Auger-Aliassime gained all by way of their Males’s Singles spherical of 16 match on Day Seven at USTA Billie Jean King Nationwide Tennis Center on September 05, 2021 in NY metropolis. (Photograph by Sarah Stier/Getty Pictures)
In a stadium named for Arthur Ashe, simply ft amethod from a statue of Althea Gibson, there was a titanic Sunday Evening time prime time battle between two of In all probability the Most nice rising stars of tennis — Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime and Marylander Frances Tiafoe. These two Black men took very completely different roads to get to their first ever meeting. FAA, as Felix Acknowledged as, is 21 yrs previous and #15 On the earth. He’s a clear, silky, modern athlete with good method — he hits the ball The biggest method You’d practice juniors to play which Is sensible as a Outcome of his father is a tennis coach.
His opponent, his good friend, 23-yr-previous Frances Tiafoe, aka Huge Foe, Does not hit the ball in a method You Wouldn’t enbraveness youngsters to emulate. He appears, properly, idiosyncratic. A much less well mannered particular person might say he appears awkward at events. His serve movement appears extra Just like the autodidactic movements you see at public parks pretty than the polished movements you see On the Florida academies however he can crank that Carry out a lot as 130 mph when he wants. He’s #50 On the earth however he’ll be greater than that subsequent week as a Outcome of he beOn the world #7 to get to this match.
Foe acquired here to tennis as a Outcome of his father was a custodian at a tennis center in School Park, Maryland — he started getting free classes there Because of his dad. Each FFA And big Foe are the sons of African immigrants — Felix’s Dad moved from Togo, Frances’s mom and father from Sierra Leone. The place Felix is extra skinny and wiry, Foe is stockier and stronger. Collectively with his big arms and barrel chest he appears like he Can be at house in rugby where 6-foot-4 Felix appears like he mightbe might’ve been Some extent guard. It’s clear who would win a fistfight (Foe) and who would win a footrace (Felix) and whereas power and velocity matter in tennis, that’s not The complete ballrecreation.
In tennis you’re out onstage On their lonesome for hours so it’s extremely psychological, particularly when there’s A lot of strain and there was Tons at stake On this match — the loser of this match would get a look at for $265,000 whereas the winner would get A minimal of $425,000. Felix has Relabored $1 million this yr in prize money, whereas Foe has Relabored $600,000, so these US Open prizes Aren’t insignificant to them. There’s additionally little stuff like rating factors, popularity, status, and legacy on The road. So their first tennis match in the direction of Every completely different was important. And it lived As a lot Since the hype as A troublesome, gritty, suspenseful battle that was decided by Just a few seconds.
That this, Felix Auger-Aliassime versus Francis Tiafoe, Is occurring proper now on a tennis courtroom named for Arthur Ashe. >>>
I hope Venus and Serena are someplace sitting and watching, and proud. Their legacy BEEN cemented. #USOpen pic.twitter.com/wxCW4qGInJ
— Marlon A. Walker (@marlonawalker) September 6, 2021
Foe Likes to play to The gang and as he grabbed the early lead and gained The primary set 6-4 he preened and flexed and brashly caught out his chin, egging on the US Open crowd. They liked it and roared their approval. Felix is extra of a reserved introvert on the courtroom, he’s not one to gesture to The gang. He Looks like he’d be simply The identical having fun with in an empty stadium. He was cool as he recovered from The primary set And located A greater gear and grabbed the second set 6-2. The center of the match acquired here Wiskinny the third set. Each men have been relentmuch less, hitting exhausting, going for broke, and having fun with all out Regardmuch less of the rating.
Neither one misplaced a service recreation — Foe acquired here closest when serving To primarytain Wiskinny the set at 4-5. He acquired down 15-40. He served an ace After which at 30-40 labored his method into internet and hit A fragile brief volley winner. The particular person had ice in his veins. The crowd roared for his grit, his character, his braveness when his again was to the wall. Quickly they have been locked in An reliable tiebreaker that was big serve after big serve, 130 mph bombs As soon as extra and again from both of them. They acquired To three-all and primarytained wiskinny Some extent Of each completely different, not often hitting Higher than two photographs per level. It was big serve, ace. Huge serve, missed return. Huge serve, ace. In the event that they have been boxers it was Just like they have been buying and promoting knockout blows. Felix hit ancompletely different big serve to edge his method from 6-all to a set level. Collectively with his again to the wall again Foe hit An monupsychological serve however Felix returned it and Foe missed A troublesome however makeable forehand. Foe faltered. Now Felix had the lead two models To at least one.
Left to proper: Canadian tennis participant Felix Auger-Aliassime and American participant Frances Tiafoe compete at US Open. (Photograph: Getty Pictures)
They are saying tennis is a recreation of focus — typically the winner is who can primarytain locked in and focused longer as a Outcome of in An reliable match like this, a thoughts that wanders for a second can value you eachskinnyg. In the 4th set, which Foe Needed to win, he started out flat. He performed with Rather much less power and focus. It appeared like Barely air had come out of his balloon after such a tense Third set. He had An alternative to get again on monitor Wiskinny The subsequent recreation — Foe grabbed a love-40 lead on Felix’s serve. A essential second. Neverthemuch less the Canadian cranked up his serve and bfinaled his Method to worthwhile 5 factors in a row. He gained that recreation and clung to the one break of serve he needed and by no means relented, worthwhile the final set 6-4.
But Since they heartily embraced On The internet after it was over it felt like There have been no losers. It was An excellent Evening time where two Black men battled on a tennis courtroom that so many good Black recreationrs had battled on this yr — former Open champs Sloane Stephens and Naomi Osaka and possible future champ Coco Gauff had performed on this courtroom. They proceed to be two of The biggest and most worthwhile tennis recreationrs of all time so So far as Black tennis goes, The trendy period — the one rising from The big shadow of Queen Serena Williams — this period can’t say They’re our ancestors’ wildest dream. Not when our ancestors Althea and Arthur gained Wimbledon and the US Open They typically haven’t. Neverthemuch less The trendy period Is unquestionably making their tennis Mothers and dads terribly proud.
Touré is the host of the podcasts Toure Current and Democracyish and the podcast docuseries Who Was Prince? He is additionally The author of six books.
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