At Rogers Cup, Frances Tiafoe feeling freed up from extra pressure

by: Nina Pantic | August 07, 2018

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WATCH—Tennis Channel Live recaps the first round of Rogers Cup action:

TORONTO — One week removed from trying to perform for a home crowd in Washington, Frances Tiafoe is feeling freed up at the Rogers Cup. 

"I don't have people texting me, we're coming, [asking for] tickets. I can free up," Tiafoe told "It's just my girlfriend's family. I hope they had fun watching me. I'm really happy to be doing my thing."

Playing at home can obviously have its advantages with a biased crowd and the vocal support of hundreds, but it can also be a ton of pressure and time lost on extra press commitments plus managing time with friends and family. The 20-year-old would win his opener at the Citi Open but fall to David Goffin, 6-0, 6-3 in the round of 16. 

This week, he's hit the reset button, opening his Rogers Cup campaign with a 7-6 (3), 6-1 win over Marco Cecchinato. He gets to take on one of Canada's greatest hopes, Milos Raonic, on Wednesday. The 27-year-old Toronto native has grown accustomed to the pros and cons of playing at home.  

"I think the first few times I sort of dealt with it in the sense of a pressure," Raonic said on Monday. "I think I have learned to enjoy it a lot more and just to embrace it. It's more the things sort of off the court and so forth that—you get a lot more taking requests from everybody, having to manage people necessarily. I'm not good at babysitting people. So that's maybe the part that I wish I could forgo, but the rest I think is a fun pleasure."

Even though Tiafoe is 500 miles and a border services officer removed from his hometown in Maryland, he's still got some local support. His girlfriend, Ayan Broomfield is a Toronto native who's entering her senior year playing for UCLA. 

"It has it's highs and lows, but it's cool in the end," Tiafoe said about dating a fellow tennis player. "It's good that you can relate. You don't feel like she's so foreign to what you're doing. She fits right in."

The world No. 41 has never taken on Raonic before, and he can go into the match even more freed up having already done better this year than his one previous career appearance at the Rogers Cup—a first-round loss last year. 

"I'm a pretty easy-going guy. I like to go deep every week but I just take it match by match," Tiafoe said. "It's tough guys I'm playing."

Raonic is making his tenth Rogers Cup appearance. The world No. 29's best result was a runner-up finish back in 2013. 

"He's got local pressure [now]," Tiafoe said. "He's done decent here. I'm going to go after him, he's going to go after me."

ATP Toronto
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev headline the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Watch live coverage from four courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, August 6th at 11:00 A.M.

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