American tennis star Frances Tiafoe got candid about how much mental toughness factors in to his victories.
Tiafoe, who is one of two American men, along with Taylor Fritz, who will be ranked in the top 10 for the first time in 11 years, said being able to place the ball on the court is only half the battle.
“The physical is a huge part of winning and playing at this level, but mental toughness, I believe, is really what gets you over the hump and helps you win big matches,” Tiafoe told Fox News Digital.
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“I always lock in with music,” the athlete said when asked to describe his pre-match ritual. “I have a playlist with afro-beats and hip hop and that gets me hype for any match.”
The Washington, D.C-area native is one of a few familiar tennis professionals who have partnered with BetterHelp, an online therapy platform that gives customers access to licensed therapists, along with Fritz and Venus Williams.
“Show up for yourself, on and off the court, the challenge of taking care of our mental health through the ups and downs of life is something that all of us can relate to,” Williams wrote of the partnership on Instagram. “Now more than ever, we need to create an accepting and open environment to reach out for help.”
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“It’s been great to partner with Betterhelp and everything they’re doing to spread awareness around mental health,” Tiafoe told Fox News Digital.
Tiafoe said if any players had proved the importance of mental toughness, it's the Williams sisters. For over 20 years, Venus and Serena have been two of the most famous faces of the sport.
“I say this all the time, but I really admire the Williams sisters and have learned a lot from them,” he shared. “They’ve had so much longevity in this business and not just tennis but really building businesses and a brand for themselves outside of tennis. It’s incredible. It definitely takes mental toughness to be who they are.”
Tiafoe secured the biggest win of his career in the fourth round of the U.S. Open against Rafael Nadal last September. He was also one half of the doubles team to knock out Nadal and Roger Federer in what was the latter tennis legend's final professional match.
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As for Tiafoe's own self-care, he said he takes time to let his body rest and recover, and travels home to D.C. to spend time with family and friends.
“Just chilling out and doing things that make me happy,” he said.
Tiafoe will next compete in his own backyard in this summer's Mubadala Citi Open. It was his recent win over Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff at the BOSS OPEN in Stuttgart that secured his entrance into the Top 10 in the ATP rankings.
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“Super emotional,” Tiafoe said, according to ATPTour.com. “Super emotional for a guy like me with my story and everything,” Tiafoe said. “[I am] a guy who shouldn't even really be here doing half the things he's doing. And now when you say his name, you can say he's Top 10 in the world. So [that is] something that no one can take from you and I'm going to remember that forever. And hopefully, I can ride that for a long time.”