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Tiafoe after reaching US Open semis: “Because of Frances Tiafoe there are a lot of people of colour playing tennis”

With each win at the US Open, Frances Tiafoe is doing big things for American men’s tennis — both currently and for future generations. He now finds himself in the semi-finals against Carlos Alcaraz (7pm ET)

Frances Tiafoe, US Open 2022 Frances Tiafoe, US Open 2022 | © Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

A win over Andrey Rublev won’t make nearly as many headlines as an upset of Rafael Nadal, but Frances Tiafoe’s latest victory may be even bigger. When you are in the quarter-finals, a Grand Slam title still might as a well be a pipe dream. Once you reach the semis, the possibility starts becoming very real. You are only two wins away from glory.

That is where Tiafoe finds himself after following up his fourth-round defeat of Rafael Nadal with a 7-6(3), 7-6(0), 6-4 victory over Rublev on Wednesday afternoon at the US Open.

Wayne Ferreira (centre) in the stands after Tiafoe’s win over Rublev – @ Antoine Couvercelle/Panoramic

Tiafoe will now to become the first American man since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009 to reach a major final. If he wins the title, he would be the first American men’s Grand Slam champion since Roddick at the 2003 US Open. He is also the first black man from the United States to reach the semis in New York since Arthur Ashe in 1972.

In the same fortnight during which Serena Williams played her last match, Tiafoe is also inspiring the next generation of black tennis players.

If you want to be a role model, you have to win tennis matches.

Wayne Ferreira

“I mean, not really,” the world No 26 said when asked if he feels pressure regarding what his US Open run could do for American men’s tennis — specifically for black players. “I know what it’s going to come with. You win matches, you know people are going to say what they are going to say — all (of) those different things.

“Every time I win, I just want to inspire a bunch of people to just know that you can…I mean, anything is possible. For me do this and talk about how I feel about being in the US Open from my come-up is crazy. At the end of the day I love that because of Frances Tiafoe there is a lot of people of colour playing tennis. That’s obviously a goal for me. That’s why I’m out here trying pretty hard.”

Tiafoe’s coach, Wayne Ferreira, is well aware of the impact Tiafoe is having — and can have if the 24-year-old continues to win. The more he wins, the more people he inspires. That’s Ferreira’s opinion, at least.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for him to be the [most recent American man to reach the US Open semi-finals]. We haven’t really spoken about it that much because we will talk about that after the tournament — the significance of what it is he’s done. But he’s always trying to give back to tennis. He always wants to do the best he can for the game in general, especially with underprivileged (people).

“He wants to be a role model, and this is certainly the right thing and the right way. I always tell him, ‘If you want to be a role model, you have to win tennis matches.’ This is the key to him. If he can win this tournament, he can be an inspiration for a lot of kids.”

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