Frances Tiafoe was up in Hyattsville, thus she has a long history with the nation’s capital. At age 16, Frances made his ATP Tour debut in Washington, where he fell to Evgeny Donskoy in straight sets despite giving it his all. In his first five visits to Washington, Tiafoe only managed two victories; this week, as a top-30 player and the 10th seed, he will strive to turn that around.
Frances was looking for a stronger run in the following days after suffering an early loss to world no. 130 Jenson Brooksby in two close sets the previous year. Rafael Nadal made the unexpected choice to enter as a wild card and make his debut in the nation’s capital last year.
When Tiafoe was younger, he watched James Blake and Juan Martin del Potro compete at the City Open. He got the opportunity to share the draw with a 20-time Major champion at one of his favorite tournaments a year ago. He described it as a wonderful experience and expressed his excitement at playing against a player of Nadal‘s caliber.
After deciding to forego Wimbledon and the Olympics, Rafa chose to enter the Washington wild card.
Rafael Nadal was hailed by Frances Tiafoe in Washington last year.
Against Novak Djokovic at the Roland Garros semifinals, the Spaniard sustained a foot injury.
Despite clearly struggling, he made an effort to maintain contact, but after more than four hours, he lost in four sets. There was no chance for Nadal to play in London or Tokyo, and he was unable to train for three weeks. In July, Rafa went back to the practice court at his Mallorca house and decided to go into Washington to see where his body was at the time.
Nadal had two difficult matches before deciding to call it a season and concentrate on 2022 because he could not manage the pain in his foot. After more than three hours, Rafa defeated Jack Sock before losing to Lloyd Harris in the following set despite giving it his all.
Following those months of recuperation, Nadal began the current season fresh, winning two Major championships and taking the lead in the ATP Race. “You think, “Wow, maybe one day I can play with these people, or even share a locker room with these men.”
I believe those encounters shaped me into the man I am today. Rafa’s visit to Washington, D.C., is remarkable. It’s quite legendary having a guy of his caliber here “said Frances Tiafoe.