Frances Tiafoe made a strong start to his Astana Open campaign on Monday with a 6-3, 6-2 victory against Corentin Moutet in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Just two weeks after his loss to Moutet at the Forte Village Sardegna Open, Tiafoe struck 24 winners to advance in 82 minutes. The 22-year-old dominated rallies of under five shots (44-25) and attacked Moutet’s forehand in key moments to earn his place in the second round.
“I played really well tonight,” said Tiafoe in an on-court interview. “I was really intense from the beginning… I am just happy I came and took care of business.”
Tiafoe will meet second seed Miomir Kecmanovic for a place in the quarter-finals. The American defeated Kecmanovic in his only previous tour-level ATP Head2Head clash against the Serbian at last year’s Miami Open presented by Itau.
“[Miomir] is one of my better friends on Tour,” said Tiafoe. “He is a year younger than me and we have had a couple of good matches before. He has been playing really good. He is around his career high right now and I am climbing back. Obviously, we wouldn’t usually play in the second round of an ATP 250, but it is the way it is right now. It is going to be a really good match.”
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Tiafoe’s countryman Tommy Paul also advanced with a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory against Stefano Travaglia of Italy. The seventh seed saved six of eight break points to improve to 13-11 this year after one hour and 35 minutes. Paul will meet Radu Albot of Moldova for a spot in the quarter-finals. Albot rallied from a set down to defeat Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Jordan Thompson saved a match point to overcome Cameron Norrie 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-2 in the final match of the day. The eighth seed trailed 5/6 in the second-set tie-break, before charging back to book his spot in the second round. Thompson will meet Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori or Timofey Skatov of Kazakhstan for a place in the quarter-finals.
Fernando Verdasco extended his unbeaten ATP Head2Head record against James Duckworth to 3-0 with a 6-4, 7-6(5) win in Nur-Sultan. The Spaniard will face fourth seed John Millman in the second round.