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Tiafoe Moves Up at U.S. Open Semis

FILE: Frances Tiafoe celebrates after winning a point against Rafael Nadal during the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Sept. 5, 2022, in New York.

Frances Tiafoe is the first US tennis player to reach the U.S. Open semifinal since 2006. Tiafoe had beaten his Russian counterpart Andrey Rublev in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday.

Tiafoe’s performance Wednesday was stronger than the 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round with another milestone victory, beating No. 9 seed Andrey Rublev 7-6 (3), 7-6 (0), 6-4 behind the backing of a boisterous crowd on Wednesday.

Tiafoe, seeded 22nd at Flushing Meadows , says that he wanted to show the world what he can do.

“I just want to go out there and try to give the crowd what they want — and that’s me getting the win.”

Tiafoe played aggressive, offensive tennis on Wednesday, never got broken and used 18 aces along with strong volleying to oust Rublev.

Tiafoe won 31 of 41 points against Rublev who only ventured forward 11 times.

Rublev, on the other hand, had the first chance to nose ahead, with a set point at 6-5 in the first, but Tiafoe erased it with a risky forehand to a corner that drew a netted reply.

Tiafoe made a backhand return winner to seal a two-set lead.

“Best tiebreaker I will ever play. Honestly a laughable tiebreaker. You can’t make that up.”

Tiafoe's come from immigrant parents, who emigrated to the U.S. from Sierra Leone in the 1990s during a civil war there. They lived in Maryland, where Tiafoe's father helped build a junior tennis center then worked as a maintenance man there, leading Frances and his twin brother Franklin to pick up a racket.

Tiafoe's step forward has come with the help of his coach, former pro player Wayne Ferreira.

“It’s a great story. Hopefully there will be a movie about it one day, but he has to win the Grand Slam first. You only get movies if you do well.”

Andy Roddick was the last U.S. man to get to the semifinals at Flushing Meadows when he lost to Roger Fededer in the title match 16 years ago. Roddick also was the last man from the country to win any Grand Slam singles championship, taking the 2003 U.S. Open.