Frances Tiafoe is always a fan favorite at his hometown tournament when he plays at the Citi Open. For the third straight year, the JTCC product from College Park received a seed and thus a bye into the second round when the draw was announced.
But once again, the 23-year-old faces a tough draw if he wants to make a run at Rock Creek Park.
As the No. 16 and final seeded player, Tiafoe will play the winner of Kevin Anderson and young American Jenson Brooksby when he begins his tournament. Anderson is a two-time major finalist and has won seven titles throughout his career. While he missed most of the 2020 season due to knee surgery from a meniscus tear, Anderson is getting back into form, climbing to No. 75 in the world.
Brooksby is only 20 but having the best season of his career, receiving a Wild Card for the Citi Open.
The two are playing in a rematch of the Hall of Fame Open Final from two weeks ago. Anderson won that match 7-6(8), 6-4 in Newport, RI.
The South African, if victorious, surely sets Tiafoe up for a tall task if he wants to quell his D.C. demons and go on a run. Anderson holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Tiafoe, with the American's lone win coming in the 2019 Australian Open in what was a monumental upset. Anderson won a three-set thriller earlier this year in Portugal in their most recent match.
A big serve and powerful forehand shot have made Anderson a tough out, no matter the opponent.
This will be Tiafoe's fifth entry into the main draw in D.C. Throughout his prior four appearances, he holds a 2-4 record and never advanced past the Round of 16. His only wins have come as a seeded player.
There are some pains for Tiafoe as he attempts to continue his ascension up the men's game. After rising to a career-high ranking of 29 in February 2019, Tiafoe has fallen back down in the rankings to a position where he rarely receives seeds at tournaments anymore. His current ranking of 54 is his highest since January 2020.
Most recently at Wimbledon, Tiafoe knocked off No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for another huge upset in the first round. It helped him maintain his current position after holding points from the 2019 tournament.
If Tiafoe is able to get back to the Round of 16, up next could likely be the rising star, No. 2-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime.