The 24-year-old wants his breakthrough to be the beginning of something bigger. By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday, September 10, 2022
Flushing Meadows, NY—Frances Tiafoe was edged by Carlos Alcaraz in five thrilling sets in men’s semifinal action in Flushing Meadows on Friday, but the 24-year-old American is upbeat about his future despite the loss.
“I just proved that honestly, I can play with the best obviously, and I'm capable of winning Grand Slams,” Tiafoe said. “I think everyone knew when I play my best what I could do. But you know how close I can actually be to be one of those guys and to do this consistently.”
Tiafoe has had a reputation for concentration lapses in the past, but in New York this week he showed that he can dial it in and play complete matches from start to finish.
It was one of the things that pleased him the most about his run to the semifinals.
"I'm gonna come back and I will win this thing one day. I'm sorry guys." – Frances Tiafoe.
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) September 10, 2022
“Obviously through my career I've been pretty sporadic of playing well, veering off for a while. I've always backed myself against the best players in the world. I'm doing it on a consistent basis, starting to beat guys more readily. Ready to take the next step.”
Tiafoe became the first American man to reach the semifinals at the US Open since 2006, and he became the first black man to reach the US Open semis since the legend Arthur Ashe.
He wowed the fans in Flushing and showed how well-suited he is for the big stage.
And he also showed that he has staying power at the Slams. He didn’t just knock off 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the round of 16, he also backed the win up with a straight sets win over Andrey Rublev to reach his first major semifinal.
“I'm definitely falling in love with the process and doing the work much more,” he said. “I'm working smarter, I'm understanding. I've always, like, tried hard, but get my weaknesses stronger, breaking down my game a lot more, and I am a student of the game again.”
In a way, Tiafoe says, he’s going back to his roots.
“When I was younger, I was a big student of the game. Just get my weaknesses better, just keep trying to get better,” he said. “I always knew to put two weeks together is obviously the toughest thing in the world. That's why only three guys were doing it for so long.”