A potential prospect was born on Sunday afternoon as Francis Tiafoe beat Stefan Kozlov 7-6 (3), 0-6, 6-3 in the finals of the Orange Bowl to become the youngest ever winner of the title. It was the first all-American Orange Bowl boys’ final since 2004 as well as the first time two 15-year-olds played each other in the singles final in the history of the tournament.
Tiafoe edged out a tight opening set in a tiebreaker but went on to loss six consecutive games in the second set before regaining his focus in the third and final set. Serving for the match, Tiafoe hit an ace down the line to seal his remarkable victory.
“Before serving, I was like, ‘I’m just going to hit it as hard as I can down the T. It doesn’t matter where it goes.’ I hit it as hard as I can, and it was probably the best serve I hit the whole match. It was unbelievable,” Tiafoe said after his historic win. “I didn’t know what to do. I was too excited. I, like, slammed it. I never slammed a racket from excitement before.”
Tiafoe is projected to jump 22 spots in the junior rankings to no. 7, while his opponent, top-ranked American junior Stefan Kozlov, will end the year at No. 5. While it may not have been his day on Sunday, Kozlov promises to get his revenge.
“I don’t mind losing to him, because he’s a great player.” Kozlov said after the loss. “But I’ll get some revenge later.”