Frances Tiafoe under fire for saying he has been ‘losing to clowns’ – ‘I’m just gonna be honest’

Shahida Jacobs
Frances Tiafoe during his match
Frances TIafoe in action

Frances Tiafoe has been criticised for referring to some of his opponents as “clowns” after he opened up about his struggles the past few years.

The American reached a career-high of No 10 in the ATP Rankings a year ago on the back of winning the US Men’s Clay Court Championship and the Stuttgart Open.

But he has suffered an alarming dip in form so far in 2024 as he has a 13-14 win-loss record having won back-to-back matches just once this year. As a result, he has slipped to 30 in the rankings.

But there were signs of the old Tiafoe during his first-round match at Wimbledon as the 29th seed came from two sets to love down to defeat Matteo Arnaldi 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

After the match he talked about the highs and lows of tennis as he felt he has been “losing to clowns” in recent months.

“It’s brutal. Highs and lows. Think about where I’m at. Literally this week last year I was 10 in the world and now I’m barely seeded here (at Wimbledon),” the 26-year-old, who faces Borna Coric next at Wimbledon, said. “Losing to clowns, I hate to say it but I’m just gonna be honest.

“I took the game for granted and got a little too comfortable. You stop having fun with it and you find yourself in a weird position. Then you kind of forget what you were doing to win?”

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The remark did not go down well with tennis fans on social media with many criticising the American for referring to his colleagues as “clowns”.

Tiafoe has lost against the likes of Jack Draper (quarter-final at Queen’s Club), Ben Shelton (final at Houston), Stefanos Tsitsipas (third round at Indian Wells) and Tommy Paul (semi-final at Delray Beach) this year.

The American has also suffered defeats against players ranked much lower than him including Jungcheng Shang (No 183) at Hong Kong, Pedro Cachin (No 91) at Madrid and Denis Shapovalov (No 118) at Roland Garros.

He added: “You start doubting yourself and all these kinds of things.

“But it’s the game. It’s like anything, nothing is peaches and cream all the time. It’s about how fast you can kind of get out of that. And there is always light at the end of the tunnel, whether you either try and find it with small wins or continue to feel sorry for yourself and continue to play victim, that’s where it just gets darker and darker and darker.”