Tia-foe falls in title match again
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Quintin Halys refused to be distracted, overcoming a ferocious first-set comeback by Francis Tiafoe to win the Tallahassee Challenger for his first championship.
Halys turned back every attempt by Tiafoe in the last two sets en route to a 6-7(6) 6-4 6-2 victory this past Saturday at Forestmeadows.
“It’s the finals; your last resort so I just needed to focus on winning the match,” Halys said. “I just kept focusing and try to win every point.”
The victory makes Halys, 19, the first French teenager to win a Challenger title since 2009. Tiafoe, 18, was in the Challenger final for the second consecutive year and for as many times came away without the title.
The story line was different in the doubles final, with top seed Dennis Novikov and Julio Peralta retaining the championship by beating Peter Luczak and Marc Polmans, 3-6 6-4 12-10.
It was the second title for Novikov and Peralta as a doubles team.
The singles championship meeting between Tiafoe and Halys was their third, with Halys winning each time.
This was especially hard for Tiafoe, who was looking for his first title here in the matchup of unseeded finalists.
“You were just too good today,” Tiafoe said, while congratulating Halys. “Hopefully one day I can beat you because I can’t stand losing to you anymore.”
The champ took home $7,200 from the $50,000 purse along with 80 ATP points.
Early in the match, Tiafoe seemingly could not get on track. But after falling behind 5-2 he rallied to win the opening set in a tie-breaker. It was remarkable, considering that Halys seemed on his way to taking the set on the strength of his effective first serve.
But after the first-set dramatics Tiafoe didn’t have much of a counter, while Halys methodically worked through the match-up of teenagers. Tiafoe forced a 2-2 tie in the second set, then wilted as he seemed to be having problems with his shot placement.
At least three times during the set he squandered opportunities to stay in the match, committing back-to-back unforced errors.
Halys wasn’t selling Tiafoe short, though.
“I know he is a good player,” he said. “It’s always a tough match against Francis. Sometimes he is going to play better than me but I had to wait for my moment and that’s what I did.”
It got worse for Tiafoe in the final set of the two-hour match in a blazing 90-plus degree heat.
“We were both very tired so we had to play our best tennis,” Halys said. “I was more aggressive than him.”