A "no Frances Tiafoe"-policy is typically the best policy when it comes to tennis betting. Just when you think the ultra-talented 23-year-old is about to start rolling, he’ll turn in a head-scratching performance—see Liam Broady in the first round of Eastbourne.

But with age comes maturity. Past versions of Tiafoe simply don’t defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas in three routine sets.

The American will next face Vasek Pospisil in the second round, and according to DraftKings Sportsbook he is an ever-so-slight -118 favorite. I am well aware that grass is likely Pospisil’s best surface, and I am not picking against the 2015 quarterfinalist lightly. Pospisil is more than capable of securing a break or two, and serving his way to victory.

Thankfully Tiafoe knows this, and will enter his second round with a great deal of respect for the Canadian.

“Vasek is a problem,” Tiafoe said in his post-match presser. “Vasek is good, man. He’s very capable. He can serve well, he has a good forehand, he volleys well. When I was real young, he snipped me bad in the challengers. If I do play him, I’m going to definitely want to beat him.”


And I think he will, but the primary reason has nothing to do with Pospisil’s ability between the lines. The 31-year-old, currently spearheading the PTPA, is on a mission to delay the ATP’s vote on a new 30-year strategic plan. Pospisil’s mission is an honorable one, as 30 years is far too long a timeframe for any decision given the ever-changing landscape of sports. All the PTPA wants is transparency.

Having spent a fair amount of time with Pospisil in the past, I know that he exhausts an incredible amount of time and energy with his mission. While Novak Djokovic may be the face of the PTPA, Pospisil is the engine.

We saw his frustrations reach a boiling point in Miami, where ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi spent “an hour and a half screaming at [Pospisil] in a player meeting for trying to unite the players.”

The Canadian’s results just haven’t been the same in 2021 as in years past. He owns a 4-6 record on the year, and his lone top-50 victory came via retirement against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina last week in Eastbourne. For the sake of value, Pospisil’s 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, victory over struggling clay-court specialist Roberto Carballes Baena is just what the doctor ordered for Tiafoe bettors. Pospisil wins that match on a slick, grass court in his sleep, but the dominant scoreline may have overrated his actual form.

I grew up training with Tiafoe at the JTCC in College Park, Maryland, and have seen him play hundreds of times. Monday’s victory over Tsitsipas was one of his best ever performances in terms of focus and discipline—not to mention his always spectacular shotmaking.

Tiafoe pulled a shot-of-the-tournament candidate out of his bag on Monday.

At this point in time, I think a victory for the PTPA would mean more to Pospisil than another third-round Wimbledon appearance. Expect a close battle, but fitness, movement, and momentum seem to be on Tiafoe’s side.

This will be his 11th grass-court match of the season, so he should be feeling quite comfortable on the surface.

The Pick: Frances Tiafoe