World No. 25 Frances Tiafoe admitted that he "really just needed this" after a surprise victory over 12th-seeded Matteo Berrettini in the Cincinnati Masters first round. On Monday, Tiafoe overcame 2021 Wimbledon finalist Berrettini 7-6 (3) 4-6 7-6 (5) to progress into the Cincinnati second round.
"People don't understand, obviously results haven't really shown how well I've been playing. I've been playing some great tennis, honestly," Tiafoe said after the win, per the ATP website. "I really just needed this.
I know it's a first-round match.... But everyone knew why I needed this against a quality player, so it was big. I know I've beaten a lot of these guys, but it hasn't happened of late. So it's one of those things where you've got to get over the hump.
But I'm happy I get another chance to play again."
Tiafoe finally beats a top player
Tiafoe has been playing good tennis this summer but he just hasn't been able to get a victory over a really big name. Two weeks ago in Washington, Tiafoe reached the quarterfinal before blowing five match points in a tight loss to Nick Kyrgios.
Then last week at the Montreal Masters, Tiafoe fell short to 13th-ranked Taylor Fritz in the second round. After falling just short versus Kyrgios and Fritz, Tiafoe was able to get his first top victory over Berrettini. Tiafoe saved a set point in the 10th game of the first set, before realizing his first set point in a tie-break to claim the opener.
After losing the first set, Berrettini clinched the first break of the match in the fifth game of the second set and held on to his serve the rest of the set to force a decider. In the 12th game of the third set, Tiafoe missed out on a match point on Berrettini's serve.
Tiafoe missed out on two more match point in the third-set tie-break but was able to convert his fourth match point and escape with a win. Tiafoe plays Sebastian Korda next.