American Frances Tiafoe managed to register his maiden win on tour over US compatriot and long-term friend Denis Kudla to be crowned Nottingham Open champion.
Tenacious Tiafoe, who had lost his previous two encounters to Kudla, sealed a 6-1 6-3 triumph in 70 dazzling minutes. His emphatic display points to him being a rising talent on the ATP Tour, and a future force to be reckoned with.
Tiafoe and Kudla, who trained at the same tennis club in Maryland since the age of four, put on a thrilling display full of power, sharp angles and boundless energy.
Since last year Tiafoe’s overall game and tactics have vastly improved. Gone is his percentage tennis, replaced under the guidance of coach Wayne Ferreira, the former top 10 ATP Singles star, by an attacking and powerful game that means he is gliding through matches with aplomb.
Florida-based Tiafoe made his mark from the start, breaking Kudla to 15 in both the first and third games to whizz off into a healthy lead and maintain his style of play that is easy on the eye.
Kudla saved three break points to finally win a game, yet he still trailed 4-1 and was soon ousted out of the opening set as he struggled with the pace.
Tiafoe’s solid serve held the key to the overall success, although the contest become far more cagey after Kudla’s drop shot attempt hit the net cord and fell the wrong side of the net for him. Soon after the match was wrapped up.
World no.74 Tiafoe said with a smile: “I needed it bad this week and I am really happy to be here. I would not be the guy I am today without Denis, I have been trying to chase you since I was a kid.
“It feels good to beat you today. I have always looked up to you, and I am happy that we are still able to keep a good friendship.”🇺🇸 Denis Kudla 🇺🇸 Frances Tiafoe