Tennis

Tiafoe wins first career ATP title at Delray Beach

Frances Tiafoe hoists the Delray Beach open trophy into the air after beating Peter Gojowczyk Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, in Delray Beach, Fla. The 20-year-old is the youngest American to win a title since Andy Roddick at 19 in 2002. Singles final of the Delray Beach Open ATP World Tour. (John McCall /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

By SANDRA HARWITT

Associated Press

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) Frances Tiafoe won the Delray Beach Open, with father Frances Sr. watching, on Sunday for his first ATP Tour title.

The 91st-ranked Tiafoe, the first wild-card recipient to win the title in its 26-year history, had consecutive aces on the final two points for a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Peter Gojowczyk of Germany.

At 20, Tiafoe is the youngest American to win a title since Andy Roddick at 19 in 2002 in Houston.

Tiafoe fell on his back in celebration and cried as he hugged his father.

"Now I'm in a position not only to help myself, but help fund my family," Tiafoe said. "It's an unbelievable place to be in and it's bigger than tennis."

Tiafoe's parents moved from Sierra Leone to the United States looking for a better life. The elder Tiafoe ended up working as a maintenance worker at a Maryland tennis club where the American-born Frances fell in love with the game. His twin brother, Franklin, wasn't interested in the sport.

"It's unbelievable," said Frances Sr., who now frequently travels the tour with his son. "I told them since they were little, work hard and you can achieve your goal. I told him whatever you put your mind to you can do it."

Tiafoe, who should move up to approximately No. 61 in Monday's new rankings, was playing in his first career tour-level final at Delray Beach. He entered last week's New York Open, where he reached the quarterfinals, with nine total career ATP tour-level match victories.

In this last two-weeks he has won seven tour matches. Among those recent victories is a second-round win over 10th-ranked Juan Martin del Potro this week.

Tiafoe was the last American to defeat the German, which took place at the 2016 Winnetka, Illinois Challenger event.

"I told you guys I was going to get him," said Tiafoe, laughing. "All the guys were texting me, `You have to take him out.'"

Gojowczyk had beaten his eight previous American opponents in ATP tour-level matches, including sixth-seeded John Isner, Reilly Opelka and Steve Johnson this week.

Overall, Gojowczyk had beaten the last 14 American players he faced in tour and non tour-level matches since that Winnetka loss to Tiafoe.

Gojowczyk was bothered by a left hamstring, which he said started during his semifinal against Johnson.

"It was not my day actually today," Gojowczyk said. "But still it was a good week and I reached my career high (projected ranking of) 51 with this tournament.

"You want to compete, to go for the shots. And you want to play your best in the final."

The first time Gojowczyk called for the trainer to wrap his thigh was when he was about to serve with Tiafoe leading 5-0 in the first set.

Updated February 25, 2018

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