Tiafoe had an amazing finish to the year last year, but he's not having it this year. After producing one of the better seasons in his career, Tiafoe largely failed to do the same thing in recent weeks.
There is an abundance of poor losses for the American, though the hope is that the ATP 500 event in Tokyo proves different. It certainly did last year, as he made it to the final, where compatriot Taylor Fritz beat him.
The opening match this time around will be against Aslan Karatsev, who is a capable player, especially in the types of conditions Tokyo provides.
We've seen two matches between them so far, and Tiafoe won both of them. Both actually happened this year, and they were pretty close matches, which makes this one even more interesting.
The last one in Washington this year ended in two tiebreaks, and considering how the courts in Tokyo play, well, it could happen again.
That should give the match plenty of suspense, and that's what we want to see. Still, can Karatsev really down Tiafoe? I don't think so, and we'll explain below why.
The major problem for Karatsev in this matchup is that he's streaky. On his best day, he can smash opponents, but the problem is that Tiafoe is supremely equipped to handle that.
He's fast, and he'll extend rallies very often. I don't like the Russian's chances in these types of situations, and while his serve could carry him to keep it close, I still prefer Tiafoe to get it done.
He's proven it last year, and I think he'll have another deep run this year.
Prediction: Frances Tiafoe to win in two sets.