The best was saved for last on Thursday at the Stockholm Open, particularly for Frances Tiafoe. In the lone three-setter of the day across both singles and doubles, the American came back from a set and 0-4 down to edge home favourite Elias Ymer in a late-night thriller.
With the 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(2) victory, Tiafoe advanced to his seventh ATP Tour quarter-final of the season and denied the Ymer brothers a famous sweep of seeded opposition in their native Sweden. Earlier in the day, Mikael Ymer was a 6-2, 6-3 winner against eighth seed Tommy Paul.
"It was an unbelievable effort, a big growth win for me, to come back and win that," Tiafoe said post-match. "He got a little nervous there and I started upping my level. He still played well in the third. He served well, but I was able to get it done. Elias is a hell of a player."
From 0-4 in the second set, Tiafoe won five straight games to turn the tables, then raced out to a 6/0 lead in the tie-break as he forced a decider. The third seed flirted with danger again in the final set, saving a break point at 1-2 and 2-3 before once again dominating the tie-break.
"I definitely didn't deserve to win today," Tiafoe added. "Elias was playing really well. In the beginning I was really flat, really negative. It's been a long year and it's tough, I'm pretty tired."
After improving to 2-0 in the pair's ATP Head2Head, with the previous meeting also in Stockholm last season, Tiafoe was full of praise for his World No. 129 opponent, a wild-card entry into the ATP 250 event.
"He just needs to believe in himself," he said of Ymer, who was seeking his third career tour-level quarter-final. "I think he strikes the ball just as good as anyone. He moves so fast. He's just got to believe in himself. Today, I think the only reason I won is because he just didn't believe it in the end. If he believes in himself he can be really good."
Tiafoe will next face Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori, a 6-2, 6-2 winner against #NextGenATP Czch Jiri Lehecka. Mikael Ymer, who converted on five of seven break chances in his upset win against Paul, set a quarter-final meeting with top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday.
Fifth seed Alex de Minaur also advanced to the quarters on Thursday with a 6-4, 6-2 win against J.J. Wolf. The Aussie converted on four of five break points to book a showdown with fourth seed Denis Shapovalov.