It wasn’t to be for Frances Tiafoe as he went down fighting against Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-final at Flushing Meadows, but he is determined to “win this thing” called the US Open in future.
The 24-year-old enjoyed a magical fortnight in New York as he stunned 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal in the fourth round before brushing aside ninth seed Andrey Rublev in the quarter-final.
He gave as good as he got in the semi-final against Alcaraz, but lost the epic match 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (5-8), 6-3 in four hours and 19 minutes against the Spaniard.
After battling bravely, he simply fell away towards the end with three breaks of serve in the decider giving Alcaraz the victory.
There were plenty of highs the past two weeks for the Tiafoe as he reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final and was also the first American since Andy Roddick in 2006 to make it to the last four at Flushing Meadows.
But coming so close to a final and the trophy was heartbreaking.
“This one really, really hurts,” the 22nd seed said during his on-court interview. “Too good from Carlos. You’re going to win a lot of Grand Slams, you’re a hell of a player, a hell of a person. I’m happy I got to share the court on such a big stage with you.
“I am going to come back and I will win this thing one day. I’m sorry guys.”
He has had some famous followers the past few weeks with LeBron James celebrating his win over Nadal on Twitter while former first lady Michelle Obama was at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday.
“Seeing her there was crazy … we all know what she means,” he said. “I’ve seen her before, but it’s a little bit different circumstance. She sees me and she’s actually excited to see me. Unbelievable night.”
It was a match for the ages and it proved that the future of men’s tennis is bright. Everyone will agree with Tiafoe when he said “tennis won” on Friday evening.
“Obviously I would have loved to win tonight,” the American added. “But I think tennis won tonight.”
Tiafoe started the tournament at No 26 in the ATP Rankings and he is projected to climb to a career-best No 19 after his run to the semi-final while he will also be the American No 2 behind Taylor Fritz, who sits at No 12.
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