Canadian star Felix Auger-Aliassime reached his first ever US Open quarter-final on Monday and offered some beautiful words for his friend and rival following the exciting match.
Auger-Aliassime continued the trend of young tennis stars making history at the US Open after defeating American crowd favourite Francis Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 in front of a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium.
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The 21-year-old's victory already makes 2021 his best year for grand slams after he made the Wimbledon quarter-final stage.
Auger-Aliassime's win sets up a highly-anticipated showdown with 18-year-old Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-final.
While the crowd got a sensational match full of a brilliant baseline rallies and drama, many also were quick to praise the Canadian following his words for his friend Tiafoe.
Tiafoe left the court to wild applause and his opponent praised his efforts.
"I understand supporting your fellow American — he deserves the applause, he’s done an amazing effort," he said in an on-court interview.
Then former American tennis player James Blake asked Auger-Aliassime what it means for two black tennis stars to be headline the night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The stadium is named after the legendary trailblazing American tennis player who became the first black man to win the US Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open.
And the 21-year-old Canadian didn't let the moment escape him.
"Frances and I are good friends. We worked hard to be here," he said.
"I hope this inspires young kids in New York, in Canada and around the world."
Fans around the world couldn't help but highlight the Canadian's maturity and grace at such a young age.
Felix Auger-Aliassime: "Frances and I are good friends. We worked hard to be here. I hope this inspires young kids in New York, in Canada and around the world."#USOpen
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) September 6, 2021
Tiafoe is just so good for our sport. I hope This Sport recognizes it and figures out how to show its appreciation. #USOpen
— Allen McDuffee (@AllenMcDuffee) September 6, 2021
— TWDTV (@TWDTV1) September 6, 2021
Felix Auger Aliassime is such a classy fine young man. Such a pleasure to watch him grow in his sport. It’ll be great to see him in tennis for years to come.
— Abby E. Wise (@eliandjake) September 6, 2021
Felix all class in this post-game interview. Such a well spoken young man
— Dude Where's Makar (@joelthesakic) September 6, 2021
Felix Auger Aliassime is class - He's lauding the crowd for supporting Tiafoe.
— Vignesh Ramesh (@the_stoic_wolf) September 6, 2021
Also, James Blake asked FAA about what it meant to be a Black man playing another Black man on Arthur Ashe. Felix said that was the message he was sending when he spoke post-match, that he hopes it inspires kids watching not just in New York and USA, but in Canada and the world.
— Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) September 6, 2021
I’m glad James Blake asked Felix Auger-Aliassime about the fact that he and Frances Tiafoe were playing on Arthur Ashe, two black men playing in a stadium named after a legendary black tennis player. It was an amazing match and a great moment at the #USOpen
— Sarah (@Sarah_Oestreich) September 6, 2021
James Blake asking FAA what it means to play Tiafoe at Arthur Ashe Stadium. You can tell how much it means to them.
— Non-FungibleTurf of Dreams 🇵🇭 (@FTofD) September 6, 2021
Felix Auger-Aliassime sets up clash against Carlos Alcaraz
Both players came into the tie at Arthur Ashe Stadium on the back of tough five-setters and it was 23-year-old Tiafoe who started the brighter, going up a break after the first game and shutting down all eight of the Canadian's break point opportunities to go up 1-0.
Auger-Aliassime came roaring back in the second set, however, winning all but one of his first-serve points and making just four unforced errors to level the match.
Auger-Aliassime, seeded 12th, rocketed four aces in the ninth game of the third set and twice had a chance to close out the set in the 10th but American Tiafoe dug in his heels to hold serve and fire up his fans in the New York crowd.
Feeding off the energy, Tiafoe then went 3-1 up in a tiebreak but Auger-Aliassime battled back before clinching the final three points to close out the set.
Auger-Aliassime broke to kick off the fourth set and immediately fought off three break points to hold his own serve, going on to clinch the match with a forehand winner and reach his second consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final.
Tiafoe said there had not been much between them.
"It was a tough start for me – a lot of nerves," he said.
"I played a great second set and then the third set was almost a coin toss."
Auger-Aliassime offered some kind words for 18-year-old Alcaraz, his next opponent.
"He’s a great player. At some point, age is just a number and he already feels like a player that’s established," said the Canadian.
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