Frances Tiafoe continues to live large – and live on the edge – in Vienna this week, rallying from the brink of defeat to snap Jannik Sinner’s seven-match winning streak Saturday to reach the Erste Bank Open final.
The American clawed back from a set and 2-5 down to claim a pulsating 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over the Italian, who was looking to further boost his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals on home soil after he had moved into eighth place in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin one day earlier by reaching the semi-finals of the ATP 500 tennis tournament.
Tiafoe, who was 0-3 down to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third set in the second round, worked the Vienna crowd to his advantage with incredible shotmaking and theatrics, at one point even running into the stands at the end of a gruelling point to embrace fans.
“It has been a long week for me,” Tiafoe said. “I tried to have fun with it and get the crowd involved and could see if he would get a little nervous. I know how to get the crowd behind me, few jokes and that and then I started to play unbelievably. The crowd made the difference. I felt because of them I started to lock in harder.”
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With his two-hour 18-minute victory, Tiafoe, who is making his second appearance in Vienna, has now earned a career-best 29 tour-level wins this season, surpassing the 28 he captured in 2018. The 23-year-old is bidding to win his first tour-level title since he triumphed in Delray Beach in 2018.
“It is huge [to be in the final]. I have played some great tennis all week and now I want to win the tournament,” Tiafoe added.
The World No. 49 has reduced the deficit to 1-2 in his ATP Head2Head series with Sinner and will face second seed Alexander Zverev in the championship match after the German defeated #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 6-3 to advance to his fifth tour-level final of the season.
Zverev Credits Extra Prep For Alcaraz Win
Sinner won the title in Antwerp last week and was seeking his eighth consecutive victory. The Italian moved into eighth place (3,015 points) in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin on Friday when he downed fellow Turin contender Casper Ruud, who is seventh (3,105).
The 20-year-old is bidding to make his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at the Pala Alpitour from 14-21 November.