Frances Tiafoe had a rough go of it in his opening round-robin match at the Next Gen ATP Finals, in which he fell in four sets to 18-year-old wild card Jannik Sinner. But he more than made up for it in his second match in Milan, on Wednesday, when he played one of the most memorable points of the tournament.
At 1-1 in the first set, after offering a weak backhand return of Ugo Humbert's serve, Tiafoe was drawn into the net by a sharply angled drop shot. He managed to pop the ball back over, but was then forced to charge all the way back to the baseline chasing what should have been a point-ending lob. With the ball unplayable by most measures, Tiafoe decided to get creative, slapping it backward and over his shoulder for a passing winner.
"This is pure gold dust," Paul Annacone said, while Tiafoe held his hand to his ear to encourage the crowd.
Tiafoe would go on to take the match, in four abbreviated sets, his winning shot being a backhand return winner from a position that would make Rafael Nadal gasp.
Tiafoe's post-match celebration had almost as much flair as his hot shots—immediately after winning, he splayed on his back before getting up and mime-launching two Fernando Rodney–style bow-and-arrows.
On Thursday, he beat Mikael Ymer, 4-2, 4-2, 4-2 for a spot in the semifinals.