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Frances Tiafoe remains in contention to become the first American man to win a Grand Slam title in 20 years with a routine victory at the U.S. Open on Monday.

After Tiafoe, the 10th seed, beat American Learner Tien 6-2 7-5 6-1 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium,

Tiafoe faced a tricky opening test in Tien, who at 17 was the youngest player in the main draw and earned a U.S. Open wild card after winning a second consecutive USTA Boys’ 18s National Championship.

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But Tiafoe, who made a surprising run to the New York semis last year, took the first set without dropping serve, wrapped up the second with a hold at love and then raced through the third set by winning six consecutive games, according to FBS News.

“Nobody I’m competing against had my come-up,” Frances Tiafoe says. “I’m not even having this conversation if I didn’t go through those moments. Life is a crazy journey.”

Frances and his twin brother, Franklin, were born in 1998. When working double shifts at the JTCC, Francis Sr. lived out of an unused storage room; when Alphina worked night shifts as a nurse, the boys joined their father—sleeping on a spare massage table.

Many mornings, a preteen Frances would wake up, walk to a blue wall just outside the room painted with the outline of a tennis net and the words trust your training, and hit balls. In the evenings, he’d practice serving on empty courts, according to The Washingtonian.

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When he wasn’t in school, Tiafoe would pass time watching the Tennis Channel in the JTCC lobby. He’d wander the courts, stopping to observe as top juniors received high-level coaching.

Coco Gauff advances despite frustratingly ‘slow’ match

With The Obama’s in attendance, Tiafoe and Gauff were both supported en route to Monday’s advancement at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Slow,” Gauff said during her on-court interview, then sort of suppressed a smile and paused for effect, drawing laughter from a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd that rattled her opponent, Laura Siegemund.

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What Gauff meant was the pace of Siegemund, a 35-year-old qualifier from Germany who took her sweet time between points and never seemed ready to play when the 19-year-old from Florida was. The sixth-seeded Gauff also could have been referring to her own start to the match, one she eventually turned around and won 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the second round at Flushing Meadows.

Brad Gilbert, who is one of two coaches working with Gauff lately, shook his head at how long it took Veljovic to intervene, and his reaction drew a smile from Gauff. 

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After repeatedly being stalled by her opponent’s delays, Gauff finally had enough and went over to make her case. 

“She’s never ready when I’m serving. … How is this fair?” Gauff told Veljovic. “I’m going a normal speed. Ask any ref here. … I’ve been quiet the whole match. … Now it’s ridiculous. I don’t care what she’s doing on her serve, but (on) my serve, she has to be ready.”

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In the third set, Veljovic called Siegemund for a time violation.

WAVY reports Siegemund was docked a point for delaying, which put Gauff up 5-1. That prompted Siegemund to argue her case to Veljovic — “I can’t go to the towel anymore?” — and drew some boos. 

In the second and third sets, Gauff found her range and was able to keep Siegemund at bay with her powerful shot-making.

In the end, she held on, and it was Gauff’s 12th victory in 13 matches.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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