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Tiafoe falters in Delray Beach quarterfinals to red-hot Humbert

Tiafoe falters in Delray Beach quarterfinals to red-hot Humbert

The world No. 84 is still learning how to find ways to win when he's not playing amazing or "absurd tennis".

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—Frances Tiafoe showed signs of his former Top-30 self this week, but sputtered out quietly in the quarterfinals to Ugo Humbert on Friday, 6-1, 6-2. 

Tiafoe was looking to get wins under his belt after a 0-3 start to the year saw him dip back into the ATP Challenger Tour. Failing to defend his 2019 Australian Open quarterfinal run pushed him outside of the Top 50 (though he had a brutal draw in Daniil Medvedev). The world No. 84 lost early in Newport Beach and won two rounds in Dallas, including over fellow Delray quarterfinalist Brandon Nakashima.

Tiafoe then took a week off at home to regroup. 

"I definitely needed something new, to see my friends, to get my mood going," the Baltimore native said. "I was a little down on myself. Getting away from everything, being low key. It's always nice to get a recharge in."

A recharged Tiafoe started his week off with straight-set wins over Emilio Gomez and Tommy Paul. His spirits certainly seemed lifted in the stadium where he won his first title two years ago.

Marco Perretta/Phemon Studio

"I’m just trying to play good tennis each and every day, and just compete hard," he said.

But on Friday, his performance was anything but stiff competition as he managed just three games against Humbert. To be fair, the 21-year-old Frenchman has been in breakthrough form from the start of the year, winning his first career title in Auckland.

"It’s tough to feel amazing because you’re not going to feel amazing every match," Tiafoe said "It seems like on tour I’ve only been able to win matches when I’ve been playing absolutely absurd tennis, so [I'm] trying to be a little bit of a veteran out here."

The good news for Tiafoe is there's always next week to try to play like a veteran. Humbert moves on to await the winner of Nakashima and Yoshihito Nishioka, while Tiafoe will try to recharge once more as he heads to Acapulco.