Tennis Prose



Ferreira Sparked Tiafoe’s Stalled Career in 2020

Frances Tiafoe was in a horrid slump in early 2020. He started the year off ranked 47 but lost first round three tournaments in a row, to Marton Fucsovics, Michael Ymer and Daniil Medvedev at AO. Foe won a round at Newport Beach Challenger vs Alejandro Tabilo but lost to Denis Istomin. Then in Dallas he beat Aleksandar Vukic and Brandon Nakashima in three sets before losing to Denis Kudla 64 76.

With his ranking having fallen to 84 (from a career high of 29 in 2019), Tiafoe decided to make a major change to his team, splitting with his longtime friend/coach Zack Evenden and hiring former ATP no. 6 and winner of 15 ATP singles titles, Wayne Ferreira.

It turned out to be one of the smartest moves of Tiafoe’s career. Since then, Foe has won two more ATP singles titles and reached the semis of a Grand Slam (US Open 2022). Today he saved a championship point to beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the final of Stutttgart Boss Open on grass 46 76 76 to earn his third career title.

Next week Tiafoe will enter the ATP top ten for the first time, he’s currently ranked 12.

Ferreira won almost $10m in prize money but what many tennis observers may remember about the Fila-attired South African with the huge forehand was his uncanny ability to give Pete Sampras fits.

Ferreira beat Samras six times out of thirteen ATP matches from 1991-2002 (including the Lyon final in 1995 76 57 63, which triggered a four match win streak vs Pete until Los Angeles 1999 QF) and was often asked to consult his tactical advices to other ATP players who were looking to gain his insights on how to play Pistol Pete. Actually I was fortunate to interview Wayne at the US Open a few years ago about his memories of Facing Pete Sampras and that exclusive, detailed information is included in the book, available at amazon for $9.99.

So one must wonder just where would Frances Tiafoe’s ATP career be now if he did not have the keen judgement to connect with Wayne Ferreira? My guess is he’d be a journeyman middle of the pack player, not a legit top 10 elite who is a threat to win a Grand Slam title.

The insider knock on Tiafoe a few years ago from ATP players was that Foe was mentally sloppy, lazy and immature during key moments of matches – as Nick Monroe memorably revealed during a Tennis Channel match analysis a few years ago – but Ferreira has fixed that flaw in Big Foe, who is now a three time ATP champion and hungry for much more.

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  • catherine · June 18, 2023 at 2:51 pm

    Good for Tiafoe getting out of his slump and linking up with the right person at the right time.

    Here’s someone else musing on her career to date and maybe hoping for a game changer when she starts playing again.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2023 at 8:13 pm

    I don’t understand those hospital photos, Emma holding up her wrists in casts as if she feels she has to prove it to her sponsors, media and fans. Why does she feel the need to show her in the hospital? To show it makes me thing it’s staged to present the smokescreen of injury which excuses her 12 months of poor results. She’s off the hook. And the comeback is a fresh start. Every time a player posts the hospital surgery photo it provokes suspicion. Also Emma looking for sympathy that she says she was exploited by gold digger coaches who see her as a money maker. Surely she was alluding to Tursunov who wanted the long term deal. That’s just smart business by a proven successful coach, unfair to smear him as a “shark.” But Emma is under emormous pressure to win again so she has to do what’s best for her image, aura and brand.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2023 at 8:15 pm

    Catherine, I always wonder who made the first move, I bet Ferreira did, bet he pursued Foe and convinced him to give him a shot. More likely than Foe tracking down Wayne and giving him a job interview. Wish the media would fine out these details.

  • catherine · June 19, 2023 at 2:37 am

    Those hospital pics of players are the go to for sympathy or excuses or whatever else seems appropriate.

    I don’t think Tursunov was the problem. Emma seemed to get on well with him. But if it was I’d bet her father was involved there somewhere. He’s known to be a short term dealer. And always interfering.

    I liked her words about the US0. (I’m sure Leylah has the same kind of feelings but she doesn’t have the language.)

    “Since then I’ve had a lot of setbacks, one after the other. I am resilient, my tolerance is high, but it’s not easy. And sometimes I think to myself ‘I wish I’d never won the US Open, I wish that didn’t happen’. Then I am like, ‘remember that feeling, remember that promise’, because it was completely pure.”

  • catherine · June 19, 2023 at 6:34 am

    Scoop – the ‘media’ or members of it, could always just ask. Sometimes people give honest responses, they’re so surprised anyone’s interested. You have to choose your moment of course.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2023 at 7:54 am

    Catherine, Tursunov has every right to ask for long term, he helped several players to career best results and then they dumped him after they got the coaching info they needed and the instant success they hope for. No loyalty in wta coaching. To imply Tursunov is a shark is unfair. If Raducancu won her second major with Tursunov, surely she would have dropped him quickly again, that’s her rep with Andrew Richardson. The women are just as much sharks as the male coaches.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2023 at 7:55 am

    Catherine, the tennis media other than myself never ask players or coaches how exactly their union started, they just say they started working together…no details.

  • catherine · June 20, 2023 at 9:13 am

    Scoop – you misread me. I didn’t imply Tursunov is a shark. And I don’t think Emma is a shark either. What isn’t debated is that Emma’s father has a reputation for preferring short term relationships with coaches and he has had disputes with the LTA over this.

    Andrew Richardson was never going to be Emma’s full time coach. He has a family and a job. No one expected Emma to win the USO. He didn’t want to travel.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2023 at 9:42 am

    Of course no player wants to commit to a long term contract with a coach or slave or whatever you want to call it. The most unstable job in pro sports is the WTA coach. Especially with a high earning player like Raducanu, every coach sees the dollar signs and wants the long term which is natural. Every WTA coach knows they could be out after one month of bad results or not following all “commands” as Petkovic described WTA players as accustomed to making a lot of commands. Emma implied Tursunov and all coaches as sharks to want the long term but that’s unfair.

  • catherine · June 21, 2023 at 3:30 am

    The real sharks are the people who spot a new money maker on the scene and smell blood. Not necessarily in the game. I think most of us know the type.

    I suspect Emma got ripped off, financially and maybe emotionally, and her eyes were opened. She learned a few things very quickly and regrets she can’t be the person she was before those few hours at Flushing Meadow. That’s what she’s saying.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2023 at 7:31 am

    Who ripped her off?

  • catherine · June 21, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    In the full article, reading between the lines, I get the feeling she was taken advantage of – deals offered, promises made and not kept. Hangers on. Happened to Chris Evert, but not so much money in those days. I always come back to Chris’ quote on becoming so famous so young: ‘sometimes your priorities get a little mixed up.’

    BTW – in men’s tennis Shapo seems to change coaches frequently but somehow that doesn’t seem to bother anyone.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    Catherine, I always remember Monica Seles brother Zoltan’s quote about early tennis success, “Tennis deforms you.” I think it was in the book Hard Courts by John Feinstein. Not many early success players like Rios, Agassi, Mats, Becker, McEnroe, talk about this aspect of tennis but as I pointed out here in a previous article Maria Sharapova sure did in her book Unstoppable, no one ever revealed this part of tennis better than Maria. Link is inside this article…

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2023 at 5:52 pm

    Qinwen Zheng loses first match with Fissette 64 62 to Kudermetova. Hsieh Strycova lose first match at Rothesay Classic 76 64 60 Hunter and Parks. Hsieh my need the firepower of Xinyu Wang instead of Strycova.



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