US Open: Frances Tiafoe hopes to win her first Grand Slam title but first she must overtake Carlos Alcaraz | Tennis News

Frances Tiafoe is hoping to complete her own “Cinderella story” by winning a maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, but Carlos Alcaraz stands in her way for a place in Sunday’s final.

The 24-year-old became the first American to reach the singles semi-finals at Flushing Meadows since Andy Roddick 16 years ago when he followed his huge upset of Rafael Nadal by beating Andrey Rublev.

Tiafoe now has another Roddick achievement in sight as he bids to become the first American to win a Grand Slam crown since the 2003 US Open.

It would complete a remarkable journey from both unpromising and fortuitous beginnings.

The remarkable story of Tiafoe…

Her father, Frances Snr, and her mother Alphina Kamara fled the civil war in Sierra Leone and eventually settled in Maryland where Frances Snr worked as a laborer at a construction company building a new tennis center.

Upon completion, he was offered a job as an on-site caretaker at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park and it was there that his twin sons Frances and Franklin lived with their father in a guest bedroom at the center, sleeping on a massage table while hitting balls on the courts.

By age five, Frances was already showing ball-striking and athletic skills.

Tiafoe, whose mother worked night shifts as a nurse, spent most of her young life at the tennis center and in 2013, aged 15, won the prestigious Orange Bowl. He was soon touted as the next big star in American tennis.

Frances quickly became absorbed in the game and coach Misha Kouznetsov spotted her talent, putting her on the path to professional play.

Now Tiafoe carries his country’s hopes and soaks up the adulation of the thousands of fans who cheered him on to victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“This stuff makes me emotional for sure,” he said. “To see people screaming your name, just liking what you do. It’s awesome. That’s what it’s all about. Everybody loves a Cinderella story. I’m just trying to make one .

“Every time I win, I just want to inspire a group of people to know that anything is possible. For me to do that and talk about how I feel about being at the US Open since I came is mad.

“At the end of the day, I like the fact that because of Frances Tiafoe, there are a lot of people of color playing tennis. That’s obviously a goal for me. That’s why I’m here to try strong enough.”

Tiafoe made a solid transition to senior play, reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in 2019, which he says led to complacency.

“You go through different stages of your life,” he said. “When I first came on the scene, going up the rankings, everything was pretty good. I got a little complacent in 2019. It took me a long time to pull myself together.

“During that time the cameras weren’t on me. I was able to just improve and do my own thing. I stopped trying to be the guy. When things were going to happen, it was going to happen .”

I think that’s a big message for everyone that you can eventually achieve the greatness where you came from.

Coach Wayne Ferreira is also inspired by Tiafoe’s story

A key development in Tiafoe’s improvement was his 2020 hiring of former top 10 player Wayne Ferreira as a coach.

“I think I helped him because I played and went through the issues of being relatively talented and being lazy and then finding the right team, the people behind me pushing me to do the right one. day-to-day thing with food, practice and with fitness and gym work,” Ferreira said.

“It’s something he really needed to change. His food intake was terrible at the start. The effort in training and on the pitch wasn’t good enough.”

Ferreira is also inspired by Tiafoe’s journey to the top, saying, “I think it’s a great message to everyone that you can eventually achieve the greatness where you came from.

“Frances was lucky in some ways to have a lot of help from people along the way. But it’s a great story. Hopefully there will be a movie about it someday.

“But he has to win the Grand Slam first. You only get films if you succeed.”

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain watches the fans after defeating Jannik Sinner of Italy in the quarterfinals of the US Open tennis championships early Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, in New York.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Carlos Alcaraz will face Tiafoe for a spot in Sunday’s final after going through a late night epic against Jannik Sinner

Tiafoe will face Carlos Alcaraz after his late-night epic against Jannik Sinner, while Casper Ruud will meet Karen Khachanov in an unexpected last-four lineup.

Of the quartet, Ruud is the only one to have already played in a Grand Slam final after finishing second at Roland-Garros this year.

Andy Roddick of the United States kisses his trophy after beating Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3 to win the men's final at the US Open tennis tournament on Sunday September 7, 2003 in New York.  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Andy Roddick was the last American to win a Grand Slam at the 2003 US Open, beating Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Nadal’s upset in Tiafoe’s fourth round, coupled with Nick Kyrgios knocking out Daniil Medvedev and the absence of Novak Djokovic, gave this tournament a very different feel.

“Everyone is going to be in these situations for the first time,” Tiafoe said. “People can gag under pressure. People can lift themselves up.

“Having these guys was always a problem. It didn’t matter where you were from, what your name was. You ran into these guys, and they just said, ‘See you’.”

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