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Big Foe and The Mountain he has to climb in Houston

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Bren Gray

This Sunday in Houston will see an all-American, all-UTS player final at the ATP 250 event in Houston, with Frances “Big Foe” Tiafoe squaring off against Ben “The Mountain” Shelton for the title.

The pair have met once before in UTS, and once on the ATP Tour, sharing the meetings 1-1. While Big Foe won their UTS clash in Los Angeles last year, coming out on top in sudden death, it was their most recent meeting at the US Open that has shaped each player.

Round robin – Group B –

The Mountain
Ben Shelton

The Mountain

Ben Shelton

14 8 13 16 1
Big Foe
Frances Tiafoe

Big Foe

Frances Tiafoe

10 16 15 10 2

Since their quarter-final clash at the US Open, which Shelton won in four sets to qualify for his first-ever Grand Slam semi-final, the two Americans have been on differing trajectories.

Shelton went on to win his first title on the ATP Tour, taking out the ATP 500 event in Tokyo last October, plus made his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final. Tiafoe, on the other hand, has only defeated one top 50 player since losing at the US Open in September.

Heading into the Houston Open this week, Shelton had won double the number of matches that Tiafoe had since they last met. With their records since the US Open now sitting at 13-13 for Tiafoe and 23-11 for Shelton, the younger American is undoubtedly the favourite going into tomorrow’s final, despite Tiafoe being the more experienced defending champion.

Can Big Foe rewrite the script and do what he did in Los Angeles, edging out The Mountain in a close match? Or, will it be a repeat of the US Open, where Shelton asserted himself on Tiafoe?