NEW YORK (Reuters) – Frances Tiafoe says he would have probably laughed if someone told him he will make the third round of his home Grand Slam at the U.S. Open when he contracted the novel coronavirus in July.
Tiafoe, 22, returned a positive test for the virus and was forced to withdraw from the All-American Team Cup exhibition tournament in Atlanta.
He was subsequently unable to compete in the World TeamTennis season at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia while his buildup to the U.S. Open was further hampered by his first round loss to Andy Murray at the Western & Southern Open.
“I was nervous. I was like … this is not what I need right now. I probably would have laughed,” Tiafoe told reporters on Thursday after crossing the second-round hurdle for the first time at the U.S. Open.
“I was pissed off, I was real negative. Like, let me see what 2021 is talking about because this year has been trash.
“But then luckily, great support system. Guys behind me. Guys telling me you’re going to be all right. I felt good, I’m just happy to be here right now.”
It was a proper test of stamina for Tiafoe on Thursday when he had to go the distance against Australian John Millman for a 7-6(6) 3-6 1-6 6-3 6-3 win and a spot in the third round against Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
Tiafoe said he felt fine physically.
“I’m cool. Obviously some of the other players had it pretty bad. Losing taste, losing smell. Physically when they were coming back they were struggling a lot,” said Tiafoe, who reached last year’s Australian Open quarter-final for his best showing in a Grand Slam.
“Actually my virus was pretty mild, thankfully, me and my brother. My brother had no symptoms at all. I just had diarrhoea and headaches for three days. So I was okay.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Christopher Cushing)