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Frances Tiafoe welcomes pressure to lead American men’s tennis

Frances Tiafoe arrives at the US Open with the weight of the next generation of American men’s tennis behind him.

Presenting a career-high No. 10 in the world, Tiafoe will look to build on his outstanding performance at last year’s tournament at Flushing Meadows, where he narrowly failed to defeat the eventual champion and current world No. Carlos Alcaraz, in five sets in the semi-final.

His first game is scheduled for Monday at 1:15 p.m. against compatriot Learner Tien at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Obviously there’s a certain level of expectation,” Tiafoe said Friday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. “But in the end, I’m just ready to have a good run and play tennis at a high level. It’s one of the places where I can really enjoy playing in general. It’s just fun. It’s super fun here. The atmosphere is crazy. It will bring a good spark in me, for sure.

It’s poetic that Tiafoe will start the tournament on Arthur Ashe Court, named after the most decorated black tennis player in history.

Frances Tiafoe speaks to reporters August 25 ahead of the US Open.
Getty Images

After winning the Stuttgart Open in June, Tiafoe became the third black American to be ranked in the ATP Top 10, joining Ashe and James Blake.

The magnitude of this achievement is not lost on Tiafoe.

“He’s got a lot of weight,” Tiafoe said. “I really feel like he has a lot of weight. Many children want to play this game now because of me. I feel that. Certainly a great responsibility. It’s definitely a place you want to be, a place you want to keep growing and people want to play. Obviously I think the most important thing is what’s happened in the last 12 months, the adversity in sport, what that means.

“I saw everyone, how the country reacts to my participation in this race. I think it helps because it’s not a normal face you see doing that every day here at the US Open.

Tiafoe said it was really different coming into the US Open as a Top 10 player, noting his confidence is higher than in previous years.

There are only two Americans ranked in the Top 10, Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz, seeded No. 9, as well as five in total among the 32 seeds (Tommy Paul, No. 14, Christopher Eubanks No. 28 , Christopher Eubanks No. 31). Sebastien Korda).

Fritz will also open the tournament on Monday, at Louis Armstrong Stadium against California native Steven Johnson at 1:30 p.m.

Frances Tiafoe returns a shot during her US Open semifinal match against Carlos Alcaraz on September 9, 2022.
Frances Tiafoe returns a shot during her US Open semifinal match against Carlos Alcaraz on September 9, 2022.

The five top seeded American males in the US Open bracket represent the most since 2004.

John Isner, who has long carried the weight of being America’s top tennis player, is also competing for one last hurrah before retiring.

The main theme of the tournament for these players is how 20 years have passed since the last American player won a Grand Slam title when Andy Roddick lifted the US Open trophy in 2003.

France Tiafoe
France Tiafoe moved up to 10th in the world, her best career ranking.

“It’s been a long time,” said Isner, who faces Argentina’s Facundo Diaz Acosta on Tuesday at Louis Armstrong Court. “It is certainly the longest period this country has ever known. We will see. I think American men’s tennis is in a very good position right now. It could continue because the No.1 player is quite good and very young.

“We have a lot of players who can definitely fight for this Grand Slam. I mean, damn it, Frances was one set away from being in the finals last year.

New York Post

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