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Frances Tiafoe vs Marcos Baghdatis BB&T Atlanta Open tennis live: Tiafoe targets fifth quarter-final of 2018 in Atlanta

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 25 Jul 2018
  • Frances Tiafoe vs Marcos Baghdatis is live from Atlanta around 1.30pm local time on Thursday (6.30pm BST)
  • First career meeting between the pair
Frances Tiafoe (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Rising star Frances Tiafoe continues his BB&T Atlanta Open campaign on Thursday when he takes on former top 10 star Marcos Baghdatis for a place in the quarter-finals.

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Fifth seed Frances Tiafoe and former World No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis clash in what promises to be an entertaining second round showdown at the BB&T Atlanta Open on Thursday. One of the brightest young prospects in men’s tennis, Tiafoe is enjoying a fantastic season and has already advanced to two finals - could he possibly make it three in Atlanta? He will start as favourite against Baghdatis, who secured his first tour-level win (without needing a retirement) since the Indian Wells Masters when he emerged triumphant in his Atlanta opener. Tiafoe and Baghdatis take to court around 1.30pm local time on Thursday (6.30pm BST).

Denied by a pair of Australians in his last two visits to Atlanta (Sam Groth in 2015 and John Millman in 2017), Tiafoe claimed his first win at the ATP 250 tournament on Tuesday when he took down the big-serving Marius Copil in straight sets. Tiafoe converted his only two break points of the match and dropped just four points behind his first serve in an extremely efficient 6-4 6-4 triumph in just 61 minutes. The fact that Tiafoe is securing these types of wins on a more frequent basis is a sign of progression and he’s certainly somebody who could make a big impact on home soil for the remainder of the U.S. Open Series - if you recall, he beat Alexander Zverev at the Cincinnati Masters last year and stretched Roger Federer to five sets at the U.S. Open, so with another 12 months of tennis under his belt, the youngster is well-positioned to do some damage over the next month.

The youngest ever winner of the prestigious junior tournament Orange Bowl at just 15 years of age, Tiafoe has been widely tipped for superstardom and Grand Slam success down the years, and although he struggled with his consistency on the main tour over the last couple of years, he has made huge strides in 2018 to arrive in Atlanta at a career-high ranking of No. 42 - which makes him the third youngest player in the top 50 behind Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tiafoe didn’t start 2018 well, failing to win a single set during the Australian summer as he crashed out of Brisbane and the Australian Open in the first rounds, but after more early exits at Challenger level in Newport Beach and Dallas, Tiafoe played well at the ATP 250 New York Open to make the quarter-finals before playing the best tournament of his life so far in conquering Matt Ebden, childhood idol Juan Martin del Potro, Hyeon Chung, Denis Shapovalov and Peter Gojowczyk to secure his first ATP World Tour title in Delray Beach. The American went on to beat Tomas Berdych and Kyle Edmund en route to the fourth round of the Miami Masters before reaching his first clay-court final on the clay of Estoril, where he defeated Pablo Carreno Busta but went down to home hope Joao Sousa in the title match.

Tiafoe didn’t do too much for the rest of the clay season, which culminated in a first round French Open loss to Sam Querrey, but he did enjoy a fairly fruitful grass campaign, making the quarter-finals of Queen’s Club and the third round of Wimbledon, where he went down in five sets to fellow young gun Karen Khachanov. Looking to keep his steady momentum rolling, can Tiafoe advance to his fifth tour-level quarter-final of the season in Atlanta?

Marcos Baghdatis (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Marcos Baghdatis is the man who stands in his way. It’s been another rough season for the veteran, but Baghdatis managed to win his first tour-level match without needing a retirement since Indian Wells in his Atlanta opener, cruising past Australian Alex Bolt in straight sets. It was one of Baghdatis’s more impressive performances in recent memory, with the Cypriot dropping just six points on serve throughout the 59-minute 6-4 6-1 rout.

An Australian Open runner-up in 2006 - the same season he made the Wimbledon semi-finals and hit his career-high ranking of No. 8 - Baghdatis would only make one more Grand Slam quarter-final after his breakout year, and that came at Wimbledon in 2007. One of the purest ball-strikers going around, unfortunately Baghdatis struggled with his consistency and injuries over the last decade, and while he was still capable of popping up and beating the odd top player here and there, he predominantly settled into the role of a steady 30-100 type player.

Despite a runner-up finish in Chengdu, Baghdatis ended 2017 outside the top 100, but he made a encouraging start to the 2018 season when he made the second round of the Australian Open, the quarter-finals of Sofia and the Round of 16 at the Indian Wells Masters as a qualifier - but unfortunately, after wins over Diego Schwartzman and Dudi Sela, he was forced to give a walkover to Milos Raonic due to illness. Baghdatis would make the semi-finals of the Challenger event in St. Brieuc, but he didn’t win another ATP match until this week - although he did make it to the second round of Wimbledon as Dominic Thiem retired.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair, who have struck up a close friendship since Tiafoe entered the main tour. At completely opposite stages of their career, this match is on Tiafoe’s racquet. He is basically a younger version of Baghdatis, equipped with all the talent and athleticism in the world but still learning how to best harness all of his shotmaking abilities. The Cypriot was impressive in the opening round, but I’d be shocked if he beat Tiafoe on Thursday.

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Frances Tiafoe vs Marcos Baghdatis BB&T Atlanta Open tennis live: Tiafoe targets fifth quarter-final of 2018 in Atlanta

Rising star Frances Tiafoe continues his BB&T Atlanta Open campaign on Thursday when he takes on former top 10 star Marcos Baghdatis for a place in the quarter-finals.

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