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Frances Tiafoe is one of the most improved players on tour, in my humble opinion. He is sometimes viewed as a bit of a showman, however. And some people confuse this with Tiafoe being a player that messes around too much. Personally, I believe he is just having fun out there on the court, and he has been performing great of late. There is one major change in Tiafoe’s game that has made his play drastically improve too. That change is the inclusion of Wayne Ferreira as his coach.
Ferreira had previously played on the ATP Tour, and now, he is exclusively coaching Tiafoe. Ferreira took over in 2020, and Tiafoe’s game has seen drastic improvements since. Recently, Tiafoe fell just short of the biggest title of his career in Vienna too. He ultimately lost to Alexander Zverev in the final. But along the way, he beat Tsitsipas, Schwartzman, and Sinner – all top guys right now.
But why is the Ferreira – Tiafoe partnership working so well? Let’s find out.
Ferreira’s tough-love coaching style
As I mentioned above, Tiafoe is a bit of a showman. He doesn’t focus all that well in matches, and he certainly loves to engage with the crowd. This is similar to guys like Nick Kyrgios, who as we all know, can be a bit up and down! Here’s where Ferreira has stepped in and changed Tiafoe’s shortcomings as much as possible.
No phones at practice
This was one of the greatest stories of them all regarding the partnership. These days, everyone is attached to a smartphone – including professional tennis players. But reportedly, when Tiafoe is on the practice court, in the gym, or just about to play a match, no phones is the rule. Ferreira himself states that he wants Frances to be as focused as possible. And smartphones certainly distract players from thinking about their game.
Wanting to make Frances bored
Amusingly, Ferreira actually wants to make Tiafoe bored. I know – I couldn’t believe the claims either. Apparently, he makes Tiafoe go for 30-minute runs by himself. During this run, he’s not allowed to see people, not allowed music, and of course, his phone is out of bounds. The reason for this is because tennis is an individual sport. And Ferreira believes that he needs to be able to focus his energy solely on tennis.
This ‘boredom training’ seems to be paying off too, as he doesn’t tend to lose his focus as much anymore.
A calming influence in competition
I noticed this particularly at the 2021 US Open and at the Vienna Open last week. When things were getting a little crazy on the court, Tiafoe would look at Ferreira in his box. Ferreira wasn’t overly animated, and his general reaction was to clap and encourage his man. I believe that this helps to keep Tiafoe in the moment, and not let his excitement or focus get beyond his control. Ultimately, this is essential if he is to keep climbing the rankings and win big events.