Growing up in Hyattsville, Francis Tiafoe has always been associated with America’s capital city. Francis made his ATP Tour debut at the 2014 round of 16 in Washington, losing to Evgeny Donskoy in straight sets after a strong effort. Tiafoe has just two wins in his first five trips to Washington and will look to change this week as a top-30 player and the 10th seed.
Last year, Francis was ranked world no. 130 Jensen Brooksby in two tight sets, hoping for a better run in the coming days. Last year, Rafael Nadal took a wild card in Washington and made a surprise decision in the American capital for the first time.
Tiafoe watched Juan Martin del Potro and James Blake compete at the City Open. 12 months ago he had the opportunity to share the point with the 20-time major winner at a popular event. He was delighted to have a player of Nadal’s caliber in his home court, calling it an incredible experience.
After skipping Wimbledon and the Olympics, Rafa decided to take the Washington wild card.
Francis Tiafoe praised Rafael Nadal in Washington last year.
The Spaniard suffered a foot injury during his Roland Garros semi-final against Novak Djokovic.
Despite his obvious struggles, he did his best to meet, falling in four sets over four hours. Nadal could not train for three weeks, and he had no chance to play in London or Tokyo. Rafa returned to the training court in Mallorca in July and opted to enter Washington to see where his body stood.
As it turned out, Nadal couldn’t deal with the pain in his leg, playing two challenging matches and deciding to end the season and focus on 2022. Giving the best.
Nadal has used the following months to recover and has made a fresh start this season, winning two major titles and leading the ATP rankings. “You’re like, ‘Wow, maybe one day I can play with these guys, I might even be in the same locker room as these guys.’
I think those experiences helped me become the person I am today. It’s unbelievable that Rafa is coming to D.C. It’s so legendary to have a player here,” Francis Tiafoe said.