Frances Tiafoe defeats Andrey Rublev in straight sets to become first American to reach US Open semifinals since 2006

NEW YORK – Frances Tiafoe became the first American to reach the semi-finals of the US Open since 2006 by defeating Andrey Rublev 7-6 (3), 7-6 (0), 6-4 behind the support of a Loud partisan crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday.

Tiafoe, 24, who grew up in Maryland, put on a performance just as strong, if not stronger, than the one he used to knock out 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.

“Man, man, this is wild. This is crazy. I had the biggest win of my life 24 hours ago. … That’s huge growth. It’s hard to turn the page,” said Tiafoe, seeded 22nd at Flushing Meadows. .

Then, looking ahead and making sure everyone knows this big step isn’t enough to satisfy him, Tiafoe added: “Let’s enjoy this one. We’ve got two more, guys. We have two more.”

Andy Roddick was the last American to advance to the semi-finals in New York, when he lost to Roger Federer in the title match 16 years ago. Roddick was also the last man in the country to win a Grand Slam singles championship, winning the 2003 US Open.

Going into this year’s US Open, the American men have played 74 consecutive Majors since Roddick won in 2003, which is the longest Major title drought the American men have had in tennis history. .

Tiafoe is now just the second active American to reach a major semi-final, joining John Isner (Wimbledon 2018).

Tiafoe’s first career Grand Slam semi-final will be on Friday against No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz or No. 11 Jannik Sinner. They face off on Wednesday night.

Tiafoe played aggressive, attacking tennis and used 18 aces with a strong volley to oust No.9 Rublev, a Russian who fell 0-6 in the major quarter-finals. Tiafoe won 31 of 41 points when he went to net; Rublev only ventured out 11 times.

The raindrops started falling just before Tiafoe started against Rublev, so they just stood there waiting for the retractable roof to close. This resulted in both a cool, windless environment and a louder setting, with cheers and shouts from fans echoing through what became an indoor arena – circumstances that favored Tiafoe. The match featured a dominant serve from both – the only break in service came over two hours, when Tiafoe took a 4-3 lead in the third set and then stood almost motionless on the court, enjoying the reaction of the stadium – and the most vital moments were the two tiebreakers.

Tiafoe is now 6-0 in ties at this US Open. He excelled at this stage against Rublev, playing in front of the spectators and enjoying the crescendos of cheers that reflected how he elevated his performance.

Rublev actually had the first chance to get ahead, with a set point at 6-5 in the first, but Tiafoe obliterated it with a risky forehand from a corner that drew a crisp response. Minutes later, it was Tiafoe who took the set, sealing it with a 130mph ace, then strutting to the switch, nodding and waving her racquet for more noise. The crowd accepted, including Tiafoe’s pal, Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal, from his front row seat.

A similar scene played out in the second tiebreaker after a drop volley from Tiafoe forced an error from Rublev to make it 6-0. When Tiafoe produced a backhand winner to seal a two-set lead, he sprinted to the sideline, sat down next to his messy collection of towels, shirts and socks strewn on the floor – call it “chic college dorm” – – and clenched his fist in a delirious standing ovation.

Tiafoe is definitely a showman. He showed it against Nadal, then again against Rublev, who never hid his anger at the turn things were taking. Rublev would hit his leg with his racquet or hit his strings. Again and again, he gesticulated and shouted toward his guest box, where only four of the 15 seats were occupied, quite a contrast to Tiafoe’s crowded section.

“I feel so comfortable on pitches like this,” Tiafoe told the crowd. “You guys get behind me, I want to play my best.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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