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Frances Tiafoe praised by NBA star Kevin Durant in Washington

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Jeremy Baudu

Frances Tiafoe is fast becoming a favorite with the A-listers in American tournaments. Months after former US First Lady Michelle Obama cheered him on at the US Open, it was the turn of American basketball superstar Kevin Durant to catch Tiafoe in action.

Durant was in the stands on Friday to cheer his countryman in the first round of the Citi Open in Washington DC.

For good measure, the 10th ranked Tiafoe did not disappoint as he won a tight contest 7-6(5), 7-6(5) win over former top 15 player Aslan Karatsev.

Later Durant joined Tiafoe on court for his post-match interview with Rennae Stubbs.

“There was a lot of energy in the building tonight. It was exciting, I’m glad he got the win,” Durant said. “He’s just bringing, first of all, that energy from this area. He’s representing right, so we’re all proud of him.”

Tiafoe, who grew up in the area, said he was grateful that Durant and other celebrities have taken time to come watch him play over the years.

“Think about it. I was a kid who had an opportunity and dreamed massively big. Shouldn’t be doing any of these things, honestly. (I was) sneaking into this event, telling my parents I was going to be a pro at a super young age, against all odds, wearing hand-me-down clothes, holes in my shoes, cargo shorts,” Tiafoe said.

“Now I’m playing this tournament. People are here to see me. I’m packing it out. Doubles was nuts yesterday. Packed it out today. Guys like KD (Kevin Durant) and (Kentavious) Caldwell-Pope and Daniel Gafford want to come see me play. I have just worked really hard over the years. I think it’s come from a great place. I’m super humble about it. I’m humble they want to take the time out and come and watch me play. Yeah, it’s so impactful, and it’s one of those things you want to keep these moments going.”

Tiafoe will be back in action on Thursday at the Citi Open to take on 18-year-old Juncheng Shang in the second round. And there’s no doubt as to who will everyone be rooting for!!

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Frances Tiafoe