Frances Tiafoe and Sloane Stephens were not expected to still be in their respective singles draws at the end of Day 1 of Wimbledon, but both are into Round 2 after huge upsets.
Frances Tiafoe defeats #3 Stefanos Tsitsipas
It was a good serving day for Tiafoe. He won 69% of his first serves and 67% of second serves, saving all seven break points he faced.
Tiafoe also did a good job taking control of return points on the Tsitsipas second serve, winning 58% of such points. Tiafoe managed to break Tsitsipas four times, as well.
So, while Tsitsipas had 15 aces to one double fault and won 76% of his first serve points, ultimately his second serve made those gaudy numbers go to waste.
Tsitsipas isn’t known to be the best returner in the game, of course. But he will surely be disappointed that he wasn’t able to break serve once over the course of three sets.
Perhaps the most crucial moment of the match was when Tsitsipas had 15-40 on the Tiafoe serve when the American was serving for the second set. However, Tiafoe stayed calm and eventually held, saving three break points in the process.
And, ultimately, the match was more about Tiafoe’s performance than Tsitsipas’. Tiafoe had already shown promise this grass-court season, taking home the title in the Nottingham 1 Challenger over Denis Kudla. In addition, he made the quarterfinals of the ATP 500 event in Queen’s Club before falling to Denis Shapovalov.
Tiafoe’s ability to hit his spots on serve, along with his powerful forehand and flat, piercing backhand have done wonders for him on grass recently.
As ESPN’s Kathleen McNamee reported Tiafoe explaining after the win, “Definitely one of my best [matches]…From start to finish it was pretty clean…this is what you train for.”
Sloane Stephens defeats #10 Petra Kvitova
Sloane Stephens surely feels that this is what she’s trained for, too. She beat No. 10 seed and 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-4 to advance to the second round.
Despite Kvitova normally being the bigger server, it was actually Stephens who had the better day on serve. Stephens won 67% of her service points, including 78% of her first-serve points. She was only broken one time in the match, during the first service game of the entire match.
Kvitova, on the other hand, only won 58% of her service points and was broken three times in the match. Her normally reliable serve wasn’t good enough against Stephens’ return game.
Kvitova is the bigger hitter of the two players, but that can also lead to more unforced errors. Against a steady Stephens, that’s a recipe for disaster.
“I was trying to keep her on her back foot…obviously, you want to be aggressive, but you need controlled aggression,” Stephens told Chris McKendry and Patrick McEnroe after the match on ESPN.
And it was this controlled aggression, as opposed to the hit-and-miss style of Kvitova, which allowed Stephens to take control of the match.
The most important part of the match, possibly, was when Stephens was serving at 2-3 0-40 in the 2nd set. Kvitova was making her push and putting a lot of pressure on Stephens’ shoulders.
But Stephens held firm, saving four break points over the course of the game. She then got the decisive break on the Kvitova serve in the following game.
For Americans Frances Tiafoe and Sloane Stephens, Monday was about about proving the doubters wrong and making a statement that they’re threats on grass.
— sloanestephens (@SloaneStephens) June 28, 2021
And, given their performances, the rest of both the men’s and women’s draws should take notice.
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