America has a good crop of youngsters coming up through the ranks, and today one of the gets center stage as 19-year-old Frances Tiafoe takes on Roger Federer in the second round at Miami.
Tiafoe had to qualify just to get into the event, and he made the most of it collecting his second career Masters match win beating another qualifier, Konstantin Kravchuk, in the first round. But now the Maryland native tries to win his first contest against a Top 60 player and beat one of his favorite players in Federer.
“This guy has about a million Grand Slams and done everything,” Tiafoe said Thursday. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to play. Seeing the draw was partly probably why being up a set and 4-1 I started rushing and thinking, Oh, my God, I’m going to play Roger, I’m going to play Roger.
“He’s my idol, everyone’s idol. People still on tour in the locker room stare at him. He’s an absolute legend.
And his high praise of the Swiss didn’t stop there.
“He’s too smooth to emulate,” Tiafoe said of Federer. “You can’t emulate a guy like him. He makes it look way too easy.”
Before it looks like an easy day for Federer, Tiafoe gave another one of his idols, Juan Martin del Potro, a real test a few weeks ago in Acapulco.
“My actual biggest idol was De Potro, so playing him in Acapulco was amazing for me. Partly I liked him because he beat Federer at the US Open final. You know, just someone different.
“So easy to like him and Rafa and all those top guys. Yeah, I mean, Roger, he’s everyone’s idol, and I really can’t wait to play him.”
Tiafoe will finally face Federer later this afternoon.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he added. “I’m going to leave it all out there. Obviously once you get into the match it’s just another match. Even though you’re playing a great, after the fact you’ll be, Oh, that was crazy playing him. Once you get on the court doesn’t matter. Just kind of beat whoever is in front of you.
“It’s going to be an honor, but, again, I am definitely going to go after him and give it all I got.”
Tiafoe, who ranks No. 101, says he hopes to crack the Top 50 this year. A win today would go a long way.
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