In the illustrious grounds of last year's US Open, where Frances Tiafoe stunned the world by reaching the semi-finals, the American tennis sensation is back in 2023, wielding his racket with renewed fervor. Sunday in New York bore witness to Tiafoe's spectacular performance as he ended the impressive streak of Australian Rinky Hijikata.
With scores reading 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the fourth round, Tiafoe showcased his top-tier skills that propelled him to a career-best No. 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Throughout the game, Tiafoe commanded the court, drawing the World No.
110 Hijikata from one end to the other. Even after momentarily letting go of his break advantage twice in the third set, Tiafoe rallied, sealing his spot in the major quarter-final after an intense 123 minutes. Reflecting on his match against Hijikata, Tiafoe remarked, "He has been moving discreetly through the draw, and this was our first encounter.
After that initial break, I felt the momentum shift. Though I had some slip-ups towards the close, I'm thrilled to progress to the quarter-finals." Relevant Read: Broomfield's Take on How the US Open Transformed Tiafoe's Career
Tiafoe Targets Semis, Faces Shelton
At 25, Tiafoe's record is noteworthy, particularly his feat of being the first American since the iconic Andre Agassi (from 2002-’05) to consistently reach the fourth round in New York for four years straight.
Up next, he faces fellow American, Ben Shelton, on Tuesday. Shedding light on his forthcoming opponent, Tiafoe mentioned, "Shelton's like 'Bugs Bunny'— brimming with infectious energy. We'll both be going toe-to-toe, ensuring a fierce battle in the 'big house'
My eyes are set on the semis." Adding to the American tennis excitement, if Taylor Fritz manages to defeat Swiss contender Dominic Stricker later on Sunday, it would mark a historic moment, with three Americans gracing the quarter-finals, a scene not witnessed since 2005.
The last duo from the U.S. reaching this stage was John Isner and Andy Roddick in 2011. Against Hijikata, Tiafoe played with precision, recording 27 winners. After a slight hiccup failing to serve at 5-3, he immediately rallied back to clinch the win.
"There were moments I was overly relaxed, causing some mistakes," Tiafoe admitted. "But emerging victorious, especially in straight sets, fills me with pride." On the other side, wild card entry Hijikata was making his debut in the fourth round of a major. The young 22-year-old's ranking has surged, now standing at No. 81 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, up by 29 spots.