17-year old tennis phenom Frances Tiafoe’s first Grand Slam appearance ended quickly and in frustration.
Tiafoe, who is considered by many to be the next U.S. tennis great, was disposed of quickly on the second day of the French Open by the Wold’s No. 36 ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia. USA Today Sports reports that the youngest player in the draw fell in straight sets — 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. The first round match took just 1 hour and 40 minutes.
According to the Washington Post, Tifoe hit 26 winners but also made 41 unforced errors. He also had 11 service aces. Klizan, on the other hand, had 28 winners and 25 unforced errors.
Despite having a rough day on the courts, a smiling Tiafoe didn’t seem to upset after the match.
“It was great. I had a blast. I didn’t play my best today. I knew it was going to be a tough match. In the third set I started playing a little better and had some opportunities. The crowd was great. Hopefully I can play again in the main draw next year.”
The head of men’s tennis for the USTA, which Tiafoe is part of, Jay Berger was also pleased with his young protegé’s first Grand Slam performance.
“There’s a lot to build on. You see what kind of let you down and what worked. It was a good experience for him. He’ll go out there and play a (lower-level) Challenger next week on red clay.”
Tiafoe has shown tremendous improvement since the start of the year. The College Park, Maryland, native started outside the top-1,100 players and has since moved up to No. 287 in the World Rankings. He earned a spot in the French by finishing with the best results at three events played on green clay on the Challenger tour, according to Fox Sports.
“I saw him playing for the first time in my life, so I can’t say what’s going to be his future,” Klizan said (via the Associated Press). “If he works hard, then he can be good. But I can’t say if he’s going to be top 10 or top 100. Nobody knows.”
While Tiafoe was not able to pull of the upset, a total of six seeded men’s players went down in the opening round. Two seeded players were ousted on Sunday as American Steve Johnson knocked out No. 26 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in five sets — 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 3-6, 6-3 — and Marcos Baghdatis put out N0. 25 Ivo Karlovic in straight sets. Then on Memorial Day, No. 11 Felicianio Lopez fell to Teymuraz Gabashvili and Jurgen Melzer took out No. 30 Adrian Mannarino.
[Photo by Julian Finney / Getty Images]