Frances Tiafoe has an incredible slice of history within his sights after beating ninth seed Andrey Rublev in a thoroughly impressive US Open quarter-final performance.
Tiafoe kept his incredible run at Flushing Meadows going with a 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/0) 6-4 victory over the Russian, becoming the first American since Andy Roddick in 2006, to make the last-four of the New York grand slam.
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“I love to show the world what I can do,” the 24-year-old said after the win.
“I just want to go out there and try to give the crowd what they want — and that’s me getting the win.”
Tiafoe managed the tricky task of following up the biggest win of his career - against 22-time major winner Rafael Nadal in the fourth round - with another milestone victory in the quarter-finals.
The World No.22's victory means he is the first African-American man to make the US Open semi-finals since Arthur Ashe in 1972, with Tiafoe just two wins away from emulating the American great's 1968 victory.
The stunning 50-year first from Tiafoe was even more poetic as it came on the Flushing Meadows centre court named after the American legend, sparking an outpouring of support for the 24-year-old across social media.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 7, 2022
It's been 50 years! 50!!
Frances Tiafoe becomes the first black American man to make a U.S. Open semifinal since Arthur Ashe in 1972.
With this magical run, Tiafoe is inspiring so many young tennis players across the world. pic.twitter.com/95rBUTjeyk
— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) September 7, 2022
It’s been 50 years since Arthur Ashe, but a Black man is dominating tennis again — on the Ashe Court!
We're rooting for you Frances Tiafoe. 🎾🤴🏾
📸: Instagram/bleacherreport#becauseofthemwecan pic.twitter.com/fCf9XeVtvk
— #becauseofthemwecan (@Becauseofthem) September 7, 2022
It only took 50 years! Go Tiafoe! https://t.co/67q3VQIDE2
— Melissa Paul-Perez 🇭🇹 (@ctsongstress) September 7, 2022
— Gregor Paton (@gjp1969) September 7, 2022
Today’s win for #Tiafoe is a win for every aspiring kid in America’s youth tennis programs in urban communities. What an inspiring story. Love that guy.
— Ian Symmonds (@IanSymmonds) September 7, 2022
How can you not be rooting for Tiafoe to win it all right now? Inspiring story.
— Let it happen (@tweetinOutLoud) September 7, 2022
So, so proud.
May he hope win it all!
It’s been too long since we’ve had a black male winner! 🙏🏾 https://t.co/5Dd88k7EyU
— Melvin🧑🏾🦱 (@mtkigz1) September 7, 2022
Tiafoe is hoping to become the first American man since Roddick in 2003 to win his home grand slam, with the American to face the winner of the last men's quarter-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner.
Roddick, who was watching Tiafoe's masterclass from the Arthur Ashe stands, was the last American man to make the semi-finals in New York, losing to Roger Federer in the decider 16 years ago.
US Open will have a guaranteed first-time winner
Incredibly, none of the men left in the singles draw have ever won a major trophy, and Tiafoe will be backed by a raucous home crowd in what looms as a huge advantage in his quest to make more history in New York.
“Frances is such a fantastic young man. Good things happen to good people,” tournament director Stacey Allaster said.
“Irrespective of how he finishes, this has been a monumental evolution in his career and he’ll only build upon the learning and success of this U.S. Open.”
This step forward has come with the help of Tiafoe's coach, former pro player Wayne Ferreira, who said the 24-year-old was once not “really professional enough” to be one of the top men's players in the world.
Ferreira pointed to important changes in Tiafoe's eating habits - namely too much chocolate and cookies and not enough breakfast - in bringing about big improvements in his game.
The South African coach says Tiafoe's improved commitment to practice and work in the gym has also paid enormous dividends.
“It’s taken time for us to get gradually to where we are today,” Ferreira said.
“I kind of imagined he would be at his best by the end of next year.”
Tiafoe played aggressive, offensive tennis against Rublev and never got broken - hammering down 18 aces to go with strong volleying to oust the Russian.
The American won 31 of 41 points when he came to the net, while Rublev - who dropped to 0-6 in major quarter-finals - only ventured into the net on 11 occasions.
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