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March 23, 2017

Frances Tiafoe

Miami, Florida

F. TIAFOE/K. Kravchuk

7-5, 5-7, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Good win, considering you guys played back to back, it's a lot closer match than the Irving challenger. Your thoughts?
FRANCES TIAFOE: Yeah, obviously a different match. You go from playing stadium court at night with probably like ten or fifteen people watching in Irving to center court of Miami, Tennis Channel and all that. He's going to play better.

Yeah, I mean, I thought the match was pretty one way until about set and a break, a set and 4-1. Yeah, got pretty ugly there. Started rushing a bit and started looking for it already. Started missing a lot of easy shots and made life tough for myself.

Really happy the way I bounced back in the third. I played great in the third and kept my momentum going and kept a level head. Happy to be on to the next round.

Q. Does it help sometimes in a way to have to go through qualifying because you get in a groove, a rhythm, rather than having to open up with a first-round match? On one hand maybe you're tired, but on the other hand you're maybe in better game form.
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think it's great, especially when your ranking isn't good enough for the main yet and you get in the right way instead of a wildcard or whatever.

Yeah, I think I've always played better once I quallied. I think a lot of guys do. Hopefully I get to a point where I'm good enough to just be in to the main draw by ranking.

Q. Considering you have had few close three-set matches this year which have gone the other way, like Del Potro in Acapulco and then Donaldson last week. This is a good win, and probably prepares you as you take on Federer Saturday.
FRANCES TIAFOE: Yeah, I have had some tough ones. Last week against Donaldson, yeah, I mean, I had a lot of chances, but the Del Po one was a real heartbreaker.

The Donaldson one I wasn't -- I don't want to say I like not concerned about it, but you obviously have Miami coming up so you're not that concerned.

Yeah, I mean, I know I can play some really good tennis. You're playing the greatest player of all-time, and that's something you dream for and something you work towards, so it's going to an honor either way.

Q. Yeah, I wanted you to expand a little bit on that. Playing Roger Federer, 19 years old. Can you just talk about what goes through your mind, how you prepare for a match like that? When you see him across the court what do you think it's going to be like? I'm sure it's going to be on center court. It's going to be a packed house, I'm sure.
FRANCES TIAFOE: Yeah, it's Roger Federer. This guy has about a million Grand Slams and done everything. I mean, I can't tell you how excited I am to play. Seeing the draw was partly probably why being up a set and 4-1 I started rushing and thinking, Oh, my God, I'm going to play Roger, I'm going to play Roger.

Then I started thinking, Okay, if I don't get it done I won't. Yeah, I mean, he's my idol, everyone's idol. People still on tour in the locker room stare at him. He's an absolute legend.

We hope he never retires because he's such a good ambassador for the sport.

Q. You just mentioned that Roger is one of your idols. Was he one of the people that you wanted to emulate, or do you have any other?
FRANCES TIAFOE: He's too smooth to emulate. Yeah, you can't emulate a guy like him. He makes it look way too easy.

My actually biggest idol was De Potro, so playing him in Acapulco was amazing for me. Partly I liked him because he beat Federer at the US Open final. You know, just someone different.

So easy to like him and Rafa and all those top guys. Yeah, I mean, Roger, he's everyone's idol, and I really can't wait to play him.

I wish I almost didn't have to wait. I almost want to play right now.

Q. Aside from the fact that he's Roger and you're not...
FRANCES TIAFOE: Fair enough. Well said.

Q. ...everything you just talked about, your actual game, how do you think it matches up with his style? If you had to do a scouting report, what would you write on that scouting report for you?
FRANCES TIAFOE: Probably wouldn't say what I was going to do in here to you guys. You know, don't want that getting out.

Yeah, I think I'm playing some good tennis. It's been showing. I've played some really good tennis last year and a bit. Really rose in the rankings. I've just been working hard and building as a player, as a person, every day.

It's going to be exciting. I'm going to leave it all out there. Obviously once you get into the match it's just another match. Even though you're playing a great, after the fact you'll be, Oh, that was crazy playing him. Once you get on the court doesn't matter. Just kind of beat whoever is in front of you.

Yeah, it's going to be an honor, but, again, I am definitely going to go after him and give it all I got.

Q. You've had a very successful transition now coming on the main tour. How hard it is sometimes when you come on the main tour -- this is your second win for the year -- and when you lose couple of first rounds? You do a balancing act of playing more challengers, or the ranking allows you to get into more main draws?
FRANCES TIAFOE: My ranking this year has been hovering around 100, inside. After losing in Indian Wells, dropped outside, now I'm back.

Now I'm just trying to make a big jump so I can stay in top 100. Hopefully onwards and upwards, top 15, et cetera.

Yeah, I mean, I think I showed that I can play challenger tennis at any time. I won, made finals a ton last year. My focus is mainly towards events.

Obviously you're not just going to come in and be winning tour matches right away. Some people do that. It's great. Definitely takes time. Losing a couple is expected almost, but you just want to bounce back and try and win some, like I did today.

Q. Have you set a goal for yourself this year in terms of ranking, what level you want to be at at the Masters or at the majors? What would be a successful year for yourself this year?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think it was great winning a round in Australia. That took a lot off my back, finally getting a win in a Grand Slam.

Yeah, I want to end inside top 50. I think I'm playing at a level to be inside top 50. Yeah, that's my main goal. I'm working really hard towards that and focusing a lot on that.

As far as these events, hoping I get a good draw and hopefully win some matches. These events are hit or miss if you're not seeded. For example, like I'm playing Roger on Saturday. Until I get like higher ranked and seeded in these events, then we can talk about me going a little deeper.

Now I just take whoever I can get.

Q. There is talk about court speed and surfaces. In your young career so far, do you have a preference of a court playing fast or bouncing high like Indian Wells? What suits your game most?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I would probably say medium pace. A little high bouncing, but not extreme as Indian Wells. Like here is probably my court speed. Indian Wells this year, like center court was a little too slow and a little too high bouncing, which made it pretty tough to play this year. For me at least. Last year I thought it was a little bit quicker.

I think medium and decently high lucky bouncing.

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