Francis Tiafoe Becomes First American Man Since 2006 to Reach US Open Semifinals

Frances Tiafoe (USA) celebrates winning his quarter final match at the US Open
Frances Tiafoe (USA) celebrates winning his quarter final match at the US Open

Cynthia Lum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Francis Tiafoe made history when he advanced to the US Open men's semifinals on Wednesday at New York's Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 24-year-old tennis player is the first Black American man to reach the semifinals since Arthur Ashe's 1972 appearance in the round, according to Today. Tiafoe is also the first American man to reach the semifinal round since Andy Roddick in 2006. Roddick, who retired in 2012, was in attendance to watch Tiafoe's victory.

Tiafoe was animated and energetic as he delivered a dominant performance against Andrey Rublev of Russia, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-0), 6-4. "I was way more comfortable coming out today than when I was playing Rafa,'' he told reporters after the win.

Frances Tiafoe of USA reacts after victory in quarterfinal of US Open Championships
Frances Tiafoe of USA reacts after victory in quarterfinal of US Open Championships

Lev Radin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tiafoe called the match "an uphill battle" but ultimately said he felt very comfortable on the court. "It showed in my performance," said Tiafoe, who had pulled out an upset win over Rafael Nadal on Monday. "This is wild, crazy, biggest win of my life 24 hours ago and coming back with this."

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"Best tiebreaker I will ever play," he added. "There was no breaks. I'm like, man, this is definitely a big breaker. The first point. I served. I was like, 'I'm just going to try to hit the serve as hard as I can up the T, see what happens.' I got the first point. Yeah, things just started happening. It was honestly a laughable tiebreaker. You can't make that up. It was a kick of a breaker.''

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The American athlete's energy was high during the match, and his game was fed from the crowd throughout. "This court is unbelievable," he told The New York Post about playing in the iconic venue. "I feel at home. Let's enjoy this one, but we've got two more."

Tiafoe grew up in Hyattsville, Maryland, the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone. His father, Constant Tiafoe, worked at the nearby Junior Tennis Champions Center as the maintenance man, which enabled Tiafoe to gain a spot in their beginner tennis clinics at 5 years old.

He, along with his twin brother Franklin, would play tennis daily at the JTCC and Tiafoe quickly became obsessed with the sport.

"There was so much desire and drive and hunger," Misha Kouznetsov, Tiafoe's former coach, recently told the Washington Post.

Tiafoe rose through the ranks in junior tennis, winning the USTA Junior National Championship at age 17, and joining the ATP Tour in 2014. He had a strong showing at the 2019 Australian Open, making it to the quarterfinals, but 2022 has been his breakout year, with a fourth-round finish at Wimbledon and now, the US Open semifinals.

Tiafoe will meet Carlos Alcaraz — the fourth-ranked player in the world — for that match on Friday in New York City.