(September 7, 2022) FLUSHING MEADOWS, New York – Frances Tiafoe became the first American man since Andy Roddick in 2006 to reach the US Open semifinals by defeating Russian Andrey Rublev 7-6 (3), 7-6 (0), 6-4 on Wednesday afternoon in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 24-year-old backed up his win over No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, the biggest win in his career, whom he beat on Labor Day in four sets.
It was a serving battle between two 24-year-olds, playing two tiebreaks before the first break came for Tiafoe in the seventh game of the third set. He closed out the match with an ace.
“This is wild, this is crazy,” said Tiafoe in his on-court interview with James Blake. “I feel so at home on courts like this. You guys get so far behind me, I want to give my best. We got two more guys, we got two more!”
“That was a really good performance,” Tiafoe said to media. “Played well, served well. Yeah, really aggressive. Yeah, it was a pretty clean performance. Can’t really critique it, really.”
“I played Andrey, you know, literally in the juniors here. We are pretty familiar with each other, get along great.
“I felt way comfortable coming out today than when I was playing Rafa. Like, uphill battle. Geez, can I get this done? Today I felt really comfortable and it showed in my performance.”
Tiafoe is the first Black man to reach the final four of the US Open since Arthur Ashe in 1972.
He saved 4/4 break points against Rublev. He hit 18 aces, and won 88% of his 1st serve points, and 63% on his second serve.
The Marylander beat Rublev in the third round of last year’s US Open.
Asked about if this is a significant moment in American tennis, he said:
“I think all the American guys are pushing each other. You see Fritz won Indian Wells this year. Reilly made finals of Toronto last year. Me and Fritz had a great run at Wimbledon. Could have made semis there. Tough one with Rafa. Heartbreaker.
“You see these guys do well. And obviously when I made quarterfinals of slam 2019, you see a lot of guys playing well. Tommy is playing great. We are all pushing each other.
“You know, I just so happen to be the guy doing the run right now. I’m sure come next year in the slams, they will be doing just exactly the same. Everyone is super capable. American tennis is in a great place.
“We are all starting to really get into our primes, and we will see where that takes us.”
Tiafoe wears a wristband that says “Believe. Why not me?”
“Lakers’ assistant coach Phil Handy, he has this thing called Deuce brand, ” Tiafoe said. “He gave me some bracelets. Anything just to give you a little inspiration. Look at that: Yeah, why not me? You put the time in, so why not me?
“Believe in yourself, it’s so big. You have to believe in yourself before anybody else does.”
Wednesday’s win is his 18th over a Top 20 player.
He will play the winner of the  Carlos Alcaraz –  Jannik Sinner match in his semifinal for a chance at the final.
As for playing either man in the semifinals, the Marylander said:
“I think it’s going to be a great match. I don’t really have a preference. Either guy is going to be tough. They’re both great players. I just hope they play a marathon match, super-long match, and they get really tired come Friday,” he said with a smile.
“No, they are both great players. It’s going to be great tennis. I think they will be Grand Slam champions when they have done their careers, for sure. Those two are unbelievable players. Great for the game.”
Tiafoe, for making the US Open final four will break into the Top 20 in the rankings.
Tiafoe career highlights from the ATP Tour:
Former World No. 2 junior achieved career-high No. 24 in August 2022 after earning personal-best 33 victories in 2021,
including biggest career win over No. 3 Tsitsipas en route to Vienna final. Will crack Top 20 at No. 19 if reaches SF.
> Won 2018 Delray Beach title at age 20 and remains youngest American champion since Roddick, 19, at 2002 Houston.
> Defeated Dimitrov on 21st birthday to reach 1st Grand Slam QF at 2019 Australian Open, becoming youngest American
Grand Slam quarterfinalist since Roddick, 20, at 2003 Wimbledon.
> Reached US Open 4R in 2020, 2021 and 2022 – 1st American to do so in 3 consecutive years since Fish in 2010-12.
> Parents emigrated from Sierra Leone in 1996 and father was Head of Maintenance at Junior Tennis Champions Center in Maryland, where Frances and his twin brother Franklin trained as kids.
More to follow….