WATCH: Hot Shot of the Day with Frances Tiafoe.


Flashback to the roaring crowds of the 2022 US Open where last American standing Frances Tiafoe battled now-world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz for a place in the final.

Falling in an epic five-set showdown, Tiafoe noted in his post-match interview that he wants more.

“You know honestly I came here wanting to win the US Open, I feel like I let you guys down,” Tiafoe said. “I’m going to come back and I will win this thing one day, I’m sorry guys.”

Today, New York City is practically counting down the days until the final major tournament begins as tennis fans worldwide flood into the city that never sleeps.

Among them is none other than Tiafoe, whose Western & Southern Open run was cut short by Stan Wawrinka. Although he won’t be lifting a coveted Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati, Tiafoe has plenty of time to settle in and get comfortable on the US Open courts, feeling his signature forehand rip through the surface, picturing fallen victims on the opposite side of the net.


Tiafoe is taking names, one forehand at a time.

Tiafoe is taking names, one forehand at a time. 

The Shot

Tiafoe’s forehand a game-changing weapon, born of an unorthodox swing type that has fans doing a double take.

When he takes his racquet back, his arm is higher than the racquet. Take a look at any other player on tour, or watch any tennis lesson, and the note how the racquet is typically facing up on the take back.

From this angle, the semi-western grip is easily spotted.

From this angle, the semi-western grip is easily spotted. 


It’s almost as though he is naturally compensating for having a strong semi-western grip, feeling the need to exaggerate his swing pattern, but his current weapon took a long time to form.

Just last year, Tiafoe revealed that he used to make fun of other players’ forehands on tour despite coach’s advice not to do so.

“All of a sudden, I can’t hit a forehand. Then I was joking around and swinging like that and it felt nice. Here we are,” he said.

The Strategy

Tiafoe hits a very heavy forehand compared to his flat-bouncing backhand. This is going to be uncomfortable for opponents, who are forced to constantly make adjustments to their offensive and defensive games.

Think about it: not only does Tiafoe’s opponent have to figure out where in the court they should hit the ball depending on his court position, but they also have to decide whether they can handle the type of shot being returned.


Tiafoe’s heavy forehand is going to look a lot different than a low bouncing backhand on the run. Which shot can the opponent handle better when attacking? If they do hit towards where they can handle the shot better, is that giving Tiafoe an opening back into the point?

Speaking of Tiafoe’s court position, he prefers hitting the ball inside the baseline, playing a very straight forward offensive game. The US Open noted how significant his early contact with the ball was to his early success in the tournament.


The Lesson

When Chris Evert emerged as a young 17-year-old with her two-handed backhand, she sparked the two vs. one-handed backhand debate. Could Tiafoe’s forehand spark a similar discourse?

Tiafoe’s forehand is a wild take on conventional playing styles that isn’t taught by coaches—his own coaching staff feared this would happen.

But it works. His swing pattern, his extreme grip. Tiafoe found a loop hole in the groundstroke and is making moves on the pro tour.

The lesson here isn’t to go rogue and ignore coaching advice, but instead it’s to challenge them. Break away from the mold by figuring out the kind of player you want to be, and take note of what it takes to get there. Learn from the coaches and also from yourself, and develop a tennis game that gets you to where you want to go.