Frances Tiafoe fires up compatriot Chris Eubanks for Miami Open win

Chris Eubanks Frances Tiafoe

Chris Eubanks has revealed what Frances Tiafoe said to him that inspired a brilliant tiebreak showing to clinch a place in the Miami Open fourth round.

Eubanks saw off Grégoire Barrère 6-3, 7-6 (7) to reach the fourth round of a Masters event for the first time in his career.

However, a rain delay proved to be serendipitous as he ran into Tiafoe in the locker room and got an unexpected pep talk.

“The first person I saw when I went into the locker room was Frances,” Eubanks said.

“I said something like, ‘Yeah hopefully I find my range in case this goes three.’ And Frances was like, ‘Man, forget that! You can go out there and win seven points in a row!’ Those were his exact words to me… I was like, you know what? That’s a good idea.

“I said to him, Man, for the first time in my career I genuinely feel like I can compete with these guys in the Top 100, like I can be on that level. And Frances kind of hits me and he’s like, what do you mean you think? You’ve always been at this level.

“He was very, very adamant. He was very forceful about it,” Eubanks recalled. “I mean, he’s a friend, obviously, and maybe he was just gassing me up a little bit, but he’s always been very positive about reinforcing to me the fact that I can play at that level. That I belong at this level—that’s one of the words he used—and that I just have to believe it.

“I think now I’m finally starting to take his words of advice.”

Eubanks admits that he has grown frustrated at his failure to take his game to the top level on the ATP Tour.

“Growing up I was never the best junior, I was never the best in my state or in my section, I never was the best in the nation or any of that stuff.

“But I just practiced and just worked, and said whatever happens, happens,” Eubanks told press.

“I got a college scholarship, and that was great. I said that I wanted to play pro, but I didn’t know if I really meant it. And then I had one good summer and I was like, Oh, maybe I can play pro.

“I knew I had the game to compete with Top 100 guys, but I didn’t know if I had the consistency to actually win enough matches to get there. And now? Wow… It’s crazy. This is weird!”

Eubanks will face Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the last 16 on Tuesday.

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