Big Foe brought Big Showtime Thursday evening in Dallas.
Top seed Frances Tiafoe gave the fans at the Dallas Open a show in his 6-4, 6-3 victory over fellow American Alex Michelsen to reach the quarter-finals.
“It was incredible. You guys really enjoyed yourself, I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun,” Tiafoe said in his on-court interview. “I really love this city, I have a tonne of fun here. You guys really showed me a lot of love tonight, so I appreciate it.”
Tiafoe, who last year cracked the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, brought out all his tricks in his opening match at the ATP 250 event. He combatted the awkward baseline game of the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor with an all-court performance. Late in the second set, he even purposely carved a backhand drop volley with so much backspin, it bounced back to his side of the court.
“He started picking up his level. We were kind of feeling each other out in the beginning,” Tiafoe said. “Once he broke me I had to really up my level. I wanted to be the aggressor and make things on my terms.
“From there I played really well I thought. A lot of creativity and I got a little lucky at times. It was a great night.”
According to Infosys ATP Stats, Tiafoe won 52 per cent of his return points and converted five of his eight break points. He will next play another countryman in Marcos Giron, against whom he owns a 3-1 Lexus ATP Head2Head advantage.
In other action, seventh seed Jordan Thompson cruised past lucky loser Denis Kudla 6-1, 6-1. The Australian will try to slow down the big-serving game of third seed Ben Shelton in the quarter-finals.
German lefty Dominik Koepfer also advanced with a 6-3, 7-6(5), victory over Australian Rinky Hijikata. Koepfer will next challenge second seed Tommy Paul.