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Frances Tiafor

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发表于 9-8-2022 15:21:53 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 choi 于 9-9-2022 11:07 编辑

Jason Gay, The Long Tennis Climb of Frances Tiafoe; A former American phenom keeps grinding -- and gets the win of a lifetime against Raphael Nadal. Wall Street Journal, Sept 7, 2022, at page A12.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/fra ... us-open-11662463367

Excerpt in he window of print: Tiafoe beat Nadal by out-Nadaling him: returning hard shots with harder shots.

Note:
(a) "What's the deal with this Frances Tiafoe?"
(i) What's the deal?: "What happened, is happening, or is going to happen? Why did something happen or is someone acting a certain way?  <You seem really upset—what's the deal?>"
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms, 2022
https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/What%27s+the+deal%3F
(ii) deal (n): "Informal  the situation or background information regarding something  <What's the deal with the new teacher?>"
American Heritage Dictionary, undated
https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=deal

(b) " 'When I first got on the court [years or a decade ago], a lot of people had expectations about how I would do,' Tiafoe said. 'I wasn't ready for it mentally, I wasn't mature enough for those moments. The past few years, when the spotlight hasn't been on me, I've been able to develop…”

'I've put my head down,' he said.

Heads up.

It wasn't overnight, but Frances Tiafore is here."

Yesterday, I could not comprehend why "heads up" with head in plural form. A librarian here does not know, either. Today, I realize the term (a noun actually, usually with a hyphen between heads and up) "heads up" just means its traditional and only meaning: giving a notice in advance. Here 'heads up" does not mean Tiafor should keep his head up from now. Rather, the journalist tells the world that Tiafor is arriving to the scene.
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 楼主| 发表于 9-8-2022 15:25:14 | 显示全部楼层
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The overnight tennis star does not exist. A player may explode into public view during a tournament, or even sharply over the course of a brilliant afternoon, but before that, there are thousands of hours, probably tens of thousands, when the same player is hidden in anonymity, competing, practicing, plateauing, struggling, surviving…all in an effort to summon this very moment. There are bad weeks, lost months, likely some underwhelming years. It is the exact opposite of overnight.

Consider Frances Tiafoe. Early Monday evening at the U.S. Open in New York City, the 24-year-old from Hyattsville, Md., won the biggest match of his life, defeating the tournament’s No. 2 seed, Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to a Wednesday quarterfinal. It is a spectacular win against a legendary opponent, and vaults Tiafoe to new status and visibility. People who don’t follow tennis suddenly are asking: What’s the deal with this Frances Tiafoe?

Tiafoe did not arrive this weekend. He was identified early as a potentially elite player, and his story is remarkable: The son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, Tiafoe began playing on the courts of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, where his father, Frances Sr., worked in maintenance . Young Frances was a constant presence at the center, where father and son (and sometimes Frances’ twin brother, Franklin) slept on folding tables in a makeshift room after Dad finished work late at night. A tennis scholarship for Frances Jr. followed, and Tiafoe began to break through in his mid-teens, winning the prestigious Orange Bowl junior tournament in 2013.

The next great American tennis player is a treacherous cloak, and Tiafoe has been slow ever since. He has occasionally defeated dragons (he knocked third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas out of Wimbledon last year), but to date he has won one ATP Tour event, the 2018 Delray Beach Open. His ranking moved into the top 50 (he’s seeded 22nd in the Open), and he’s a well-liked talent with tremendous power and smart touch, but he hasn’t been consistent enough to break through. He is no longer the teenage comet – that title belongs to Spain’s prodigious 19-year-old, Carlos Alcaraz. It became reasonable to wonder if Tiafoe would ever get to the place he envisioned for himself.

Then Monday. There are few athletes harder to topple than Nadal – even at 36, recovering from stomach surgery, the Spaniard remains a ferocious competitor capable of roaring back from any deficit.

There is a long list of tennis hopefuls who took Nadal a set, even two sets, and watched helplessly as he circled back and gnawed the engine off the stern of their boat. There is a reason why Rafael won 22 majors.

Tiafoe beat Nadal by out-playing Nadal: playing physical, returning hard shots with harder shots and moving his elder around recklessly. He pushed Nadal to the wall, and just as Nadal appeared on the verge of a comeback, he pushed harder. Everything clicked – a 135 MPH smoke bomb of a serve to close out a critical game; a drop shot that curled over the net so sweetly it made Tiafoe laugh. Nadal hadn’t lost a match at a major tournament this year – the Australian and French Open champion, who withdrew with an injury before the semi-finals at Wimbledon, was 22-0 at majors on the year. But the veteran knew he was fired. “[Frances] was better than me,” he said.


When it was over, Tiafoe cried. In his player’s box was his family, who had seen his ups and downs and all the lonely spaces in between. Burying his face in his hands, Tiafoe revealed a pair of rubber bracelets he wears on his right wrist: one in the colors of the University of Maryland football team, the other with an exhortation in large letters: BELIEVE. WHY NOT ME.

Later, to the assembled media, Tiafoe reiterated the basics of his journey: child of immigrants, father’s job at the club, his mother, Alphina, working long nights as a nurse. He will make history again if he beats No. 9 seed Andrey Rublev on Wednesday and continues his run through this tournament, now open to a first-time winner following the departures of Nadal and defending champion Daniil Medvedev, the latter denied Sunday by a rollicking Nick Kyrgios.

But the middle part of Tiafoe’s story is perhaps the most critical part. It’s the part few saw or want to talk much about: When he was in the humble, indeterminate space between The Next Big Thing and now, when his career could have gone either way, and he kept fighting.

“When I first got on the court, a lot of people had expectations about how I would do,” Tiafoe said. “I wasn’t ready for it mentally, I wasn’t mature enough for those moments. The past few years, when the spotlight hasn’t been on me, I’ve been able to develop…”

“I’ve put my head down,” he said.

Heads up.

It wasn't overnight, but Frances Tiafore is here.
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