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Showman Frances Tiafoe bows out in blaze of glory at Wimbledon
The rising American star ended a memorable run at the All England Club after five sets with Belgian rival David Goffin and a joke-filled presser.
Published Jul 03, 2022
WATCH: Tiafoe came agonizingly close to reaching his first Wimbledon quarterfinal on Sunday.
Frances Tiafoe came out on the wrong end of a classic five-setter with Belgian David Goffin but while the consummate showman left everything on No. 2 Court, he won’t leave the All England Club without his sense of humor.
“I mean, the only thing I can say honestly right now is fuck David,” he joked when asked to assess the 7-6 (3), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 defeat. He beat me two slams in a row. Fuck that guy.”
Goffin indeed got the better of him in both their major encounters this season—including a four-set showdown at Roland Garros—but Tiafoe clearly won over the Wimbledon crowd after an impressive first week that culminated not only with a career-best showing at SW19 but also one of the most entertaining matches of the fortnight.
“It's just me,” the 24-year-old explained. “You know, I crack a lot of jokes. Very easygoing. Kind of just who I am.”
The American was in full flow by the time he got to his Belgian nemesis, shaking hands with spectators after a spectacular get and tripping into an impromptu hug with a lineswoman.
“I was running full speed, and, you know, they were right there,” Tiafoe recalled of the opening set hot shot. “He's giving a nice, formal handshake. I thought it was funny. Early in the match. Get the crowd into it.
“I had some jitters. I was a little nervous. Came out, wasn't playing great. That calmed me down. After that, it was war after that.”
Among his post-match regrets? Besides not holding serve at 4-5 in the fourth, he wishes he'd officially challenged an especially deep serve.
“That's the worst serve I ever hit in my life. Hit a serve past the baseline. That's unacceptable.
“Yeah, I actually wish I did it up. That would have been hilarious. I think the whole crowd would have laughed.”
All jokes aside, Tiafoe was aiming for an all-American quarterfinal with Tommy Paul, one that would crystalize the impressive run of form displayed by his countrymen throughout the tournament. Though Paul also bowed out at the hands of British hope Cameron Norrie, Taylor Fritz and Brandon Nakashima remain in pursuit of the last eight—combining for the most U.S. men to reach Wimbledon's fourth round since 1999.
Even more impressively, the quartet are all 25 and younger.
“I think young Americans are playing great tennis,” smiled Tiafoe, “Hopefully we can carry on, good time for us. Clay court season is over. Got that season over…Yeah, grass, then on to the hard court. American swing. I think it's great. I think we have great momentum. I hope we all just keep carrying on and playing great leading up to the Open.”
Taking a final bow, Tiafoe took one last comic swipe at his four-and-a-half-hour epic in post-match press.
“It felt like we were on clay court at one point, rallies were so long. I was, like, this is defeating the purpose of the grass court season!”