NEW YORK – In about 20 minutes Francis Tiafoe Earned his first trip to the US Open semi-finals on Wednesday by an American man since 2006, he met in the lobby of Arthur Ashe Stadium with a group of friends, the Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Bell between them.
Everyone exchanged hearty hugs and big smiles. Tiafoe shouted, “Let’s stop for a psychedelic photo!” They were forced. When the class of nine people stood together, one of them shouted, “Throw the word ‘Dub!'” So Tiafoe and others formed a ‘W’–as in a win–by joining the thumb and index finger on both hands. Tiafoe’s girlfriend ran through the nearby double doors, jumped into his arms, kissed him, then wiped lipstick from his mouth.
Sure enough, Tiafoe is a showman and someone who has been striving for years to achieve that kind of success on the big stage, and Tiafoe is sure to enjoy the ride, as are his buddies, his parents and partisan fans, who last celebrated a Grand Slam Cup for a man from the United States two decades ago.
Tiafoe managed the challenging task of following up on the biggest win of his career, against a 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal In the fourth round, with another notable victory, defeating the ninth seed Andrey Rublev 7-6 (3), 7-6 (0), 6-4 behind a raucous crowd support on Wednesday.
“I like to show the world what I can do,” said 24-year-old Tiafoe, the No. 22 at Flushing Meadows who became the first black American man to reach the semi-finals of the US Open since Arthur Ashe in 1972. I just want to get out there and try to give the audience what they want – and that’s my win.”
Andy Roddickwho was at Ash standing Wednesday, was the last American man to reach the semifinals in New York, losing to Roger Federer In the title match 16 years ago. Roddick was also the last man from the country to win any singles tournament at a Grand Slam, winning the 2003 US Open.
Entering this year’s US Open, American men have won 74 consecutive major tournaments since Roddick’s victory in 2003, the longest drought in American men’s tennis history.
Among the active American men, Tiafoe is now only second to reach a major semi-final, joining John Isner (2018 Wimbledon).
None of the men left in brackets this time won a big trophy. The semi-finals of Tiafoe’s first professional slam will come on Friday against the third seed Carlos Alcaraz or number 11 Yannick Senerwhich was scheduled to play Wednesday night.
“Francis is a wonderful young man,” tournament director Stacey Allister said. “Good things happen to good people.” “No matter how he ended up, this was a massive development in his career and will only build on learning and success at this US Open.”
The move came with the help of Tiafoe’s coach, former professional player Wayne Ferreira, who said the player wasn’t “really professional enough” and noted important changes in his habits when it came to eating – there were plenty of chocolates, cookies and snacks. Breakfast not enough – work out and work in the gym.
“It took us time to gradually get to where we are today,” Ferreira said. “I kind of imagined he’d be at his best by the end of next year.”
On Wednesday, playing aggressive and offensive tennis, Tiafoe was never broken and used 18 aces with a powerful shot to oust Rublev, the Russian who fell to 0-6 in the main quarter-final. Tiafoe won 31 of 41 points when he went into the net. Rublev only ventured forward 11 times.
Raindrops started falling before the start of the Tiafoe vs. Rublev match, so they just stood waiting for the retractable roof to close. This resulted in a cool, windless environment and a much louder atmosphere, with applause and screams from fans reverberating in what became an indoor arena – conditions that favored Tiafoe.
The only break came more than two hours later, when Tiafoe took a 4-3 lead in the third and then stood mostly motionless on the field, enjoying the growing support. Other key moments came in the finale of the first two sets. Tiafoe is 6-0 in the tiebreak at the US Open.
Rublev actually had the first chance to take the lead, with a set point at 6-5 at the start, but Tiafoe erased it with a risky forehand kick into a corner that led to a calculated response.
Several minutes later, it was Tiafoe who took the group, stamped it at 130 mph, then strutted to the change, nodded and moved his paddle for more noise.
A similar scene emerged in the second tiebreak after a shot from Tiafoe forced Rublev to a foul to score 6-0.
When Tiafoe produced a backhand winner to take a two-pack lead, he sprinted to the sideline, sat near his chaotic collection of towels, T-shirts, and socks strewn about the floor—he called it “college bedroom chic” or, to use his “diabolical” word—and shook his fist to the ravings of applause. warm.
“The best tiebreaker I’ve ever played,” said Tiafoe. “Honestly, funny tie breaker. You can’t make it up.”
Rublev never tried to hide his anger at the way things were going. He hit himself on the leg with his bat or punched his strings. Time and time again, he made gestures and screams in the direction of his guest box, as only four of the 15 seats were occupied, in stark contrast to the entire Tiafoe section entirely.
Ferreira was there. So was Tiafoe’s agent, Jill Smoller, among his clients Serena Williams. Tiafoe’s twin brother Franklin is also their parents, who immigrated to the United States from Sierra Leone in the 1990s during a civil war there. They lived in Maryland, where Dad helped build a small tennis center and then worked as a maintenance man there, prompting Francis and Franklin to pick up a racket.
“Yes, it’s a great story,” Ferreira said. “I hope there will be a movie about it someday.” “But he has to win a Grand Slam first. You can’t get the movies unless you do a good job.”
Focusing on the topic, the man known to everyone in sports as “Big Foe” said, “Everyone loves a Cinderella story. I’m just trying to make one.”
So far, so good.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.