US Open: Frances Tiafoe moves into second round with straightforward three-set victory over teenager Learner Tien

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US Open: Frances Tiafoe moves into second round with straightforward three-set victory over teenager Learner Tien

  • Frances Tiafoe beat the youngest player in the entire US Open on Monday
  • The World No. 10 was frustrated at times but won comfortably in the end
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news 

A year after his shock semifinal run in New York, Frances Tiafoe got off to the US Open start he wanted as he thwarted wild card Learner Tien in three sets on the first day of the tournament.

Tiafoe’s 41 unforced errors suggest he may need to round into Grand Slam form, but it was nonetheless a fairly straightforward afternoon for the world no. 10 as he won 6-2, 7-5, 6-1.

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Tiafoe broke his fellow American in the first game, and that would set the tone for the rest of the match at Arthur Ashe Stadium in front of a crowd that was decidedly pulling for him.

The 25-year-old hit 13 winners in the first set, and dominated at the net as he frequently forced his much younger opponent to retreat.

Tien, just 17, was a finalist at the junior Australian Open earlier this year and only turned pro last month.

Frances Tiafoe won in fairly straightforward fashion to move onto the second round

Frances Tiafoe won in fairly straightforward fashion to move onto the second round

Wild card Learner Tien can hold his head high after frustrating Tiafoe for periods on Monday

Wild card Learner Tien can hold his head high after frustrating Tiafoe for periods on Monday

And while his US Open is already over, there were some flashes from the former USC Trojan.

He eked past Tiafoe in a third-game deuce to avoid being broken on the second time of asking and cut the score to 2-1.

But Tien would get no closer to his opponent in the first set as Tiafoe responded for a 3-1 lead before winning a crucial second break for a 5-2 advantage.

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After serving for the set, Tiafoe won another break in the beginning of the second, this time outlasting Tien over five deuces to continue his hot start. 

Things then got a bit choppier for the favorite.

Tiafoe lost the next two games on unforced errors before he missed the line with a routine forehand winner in the fifth game of the set.

That miss at 30-30, after Tiafoe had tied the set in the previous game, helped Tien take a 3-2 lead before he eventually saw himself up 4-3.

From there, Tiafoe locked in and won the next two games. He loudly yelled something to the effect of ‘Come on!’ when he leveled the set at 4-4, as Tien was able to frustrate if not best his opponent.

The next game felt like a turning point for Tiafoe, who blew a 40-0 lead with a chance to break. But he held his nerve in the deuce and delivered the moment of the match to that point, as he scraped a forehand winner down the line following a slam from Tien at the net.

Tiafoe faced deficits of 3-2 and 4-3 in the second set before bouncing back and winning 7-5

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Tiafoe faced deficits of 3-2 and 4-3 in the second set before bouncing back and winning 7-5

He'll hope to clean up his performance against his next opponent in New York

He’ll hope to clean up his performance against his next opponent in New York

Tien, though, would stick around to return a break of his own, and was two points from a 6-5 lead after a ferocious left-hand winner down the line for 30-15 in the next game.

Tiafoe managed to come back and survive a deuce for another break, and this time successfully served out the set for what would prove to be an unassailable lead.

Even in his victory lap of a third set, there were some signs for concern, as he missed another straightforward winner with the advantage at deuce, down 1-0.

He recovered over the next two points to even the set and eventually win it, but there are certainly things to clean up for a player who’s been ousted in the third round of every Grand Slam this year.

Tiafoe will face Sebastian Ofner in the second round.

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