Armed with an experienced coach and a fresh attitude, Frances Tiafoe is looking to be back on the come up.
Tiafoe reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2019 and has been ranked as high as No. 29, but his poor start to 2020 dropped him out of the Top 80 in the rankings and dropped his confidence even further.
But leading into and during the five-month break in tour competition, the 23-year-old regained his eagerness to compete and changed up his team, bringing in Wayne Ferreira. It paid off with a run to the fourth round at the US Open and an ATP Challenger title in October.
According to Ferreira, Tiafoe is aiming to keep rising this season but must take a long-term approach to avoid more down swings.
“He really wants to climb up the mountain, but it will take time,” Ferreira tells TENNIS.com. “Almost all the top young players are very good, but they have to compete more often and not get so frustrated. Even if they are winning a lot of matches, that doesn’t mean that various strokes don't need changing up.”
Ferreira says they are emphasizing consistent improvement and mental competitiveness as that is what has helped Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic win 57 combined Grand Slams.
“That's why they have won so many titles, big titles," Ferreira says. "Even if they are getting tired, and we all do, after many hours on court, you have to be nerve central."
Armed with a strong backhand and return, Tiafoe is working on is forehand and net game. The world No. 62 is trying to flatten out his forehand and move forward into the court more often.
Ferreira reached the semifinals of Australian Open in 1992 and 2003, and was ranked as high as No. 6 in the world. Since retiring in 2005, the South African has coached college and pro players.
Most recently, he was teamed up with 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic.
“He just didn’t want to change,” Ferreira said.
But the younger Tiafoe, who began the season with a quarterfinal run in Delray Beach, wants to add to his game and keep developing on court. (He won his first, and so far only, ATP title in Delray in 2018.)
“He feels better now; he is ready to go,” says Ferreira, who is currently quarantining in Melbourne. “Now it takes a while to understand that they have to practice a lot. It also took Dominic Thiem a lot to finally win a Grand Slam, and he is 27 years old.”
Tiafoe has been permitted to train during quarantine and is scheduled to play one of the ATP 250's before the Australian Open starts on Feb. 8.