Beating one of the all time greats in your sport would make anyone feel like Superman. Based on the way he played in his quarterfinal match against Andrey Rublev, that’s exactly how Frances Tiafoe was feeling. The No. 22 seed’s confidence was on full display as he defeated the Russian 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.
The charismatic American had an extra strut as he battled the No. 9 seed. This was expected to be a close contest, as both players have looked strong coming into their match. Rublev has been on the cusp of breaking through to the next level several times, but hasn’t been able to make it. Going into this match he was 0-for-5 in Grand Slam quarterfinals. Sorry, it’s 0-for-6 now.
The first set was a virtual tie, with neither man giving an inch. The tight back and forth saw no breaks of serve, and only three break points. Tiafoe was able to open things up in the tiebreak, winning it 7-3, to take the first set 7-6.
The second set was more of the same, with no breaks. However, despite the evenly matched contest, Rublev was noticeably frustrated with his play. For his part, Frances frequently ran to his chair during changeovers and encouraged the crowd’s unwavering support. Once again, the two found themselves in a tiebreak, only this time Tiafoe was completely in his bag and won 7-0, grabbing the second set 7-6.
Between the second and third sets, the Maryland native left the court for around eight minutes to change clothes. The long break only added to Rublev’s building frustration. While the third set was just as competitive as the first two. Frances picked up his game, broke the Russian’s serve and his spirit. The American held strong, winning the third set 6-4.
During his on-court interview with James Blake, Tiafoe saluted the crowd and recognized how special Arthur Ashe Stadium is.
“I feel so at home on courts like this. This court is unbelievable,” he said. “You guys get so far behind me, I want to play, I want to do my best. I always find a way somehow on this court. I always play some great tennis, and have been. Let’s enjoy this moment guys. We’ve got two more.”
Frances will now “kick his feet up” and watch his possible opponents Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz battle it out on Ashe in the Wednesday night match.
Tiafoe will be back in action in his first ever Grand Slam semi-final on Thursday.