Widely regarded as one of the brightest talents in the game, as a world ranking of ten attests, it’s time for Frances Tiafoe to take the next step on the Grand Slam stage.
Despite making his major debut as far back as 2015, the 25-year-old has only made the semi-final of a Slam event once.
That came at the 2022 US Open, where he produced some exceptional tennis in front of his passionate home supporters, so on the eve of a return to Flushing Meadows, Tiafoe must be fancying his chances of finally breaking through on the biggest stage of them all.
The American Dream
As the eighth favorite at tennis betting odds of 33/1, the sportsbooks are being respectful to Tiafoe’s chances at the US Open – he’s behind the likes of Novak Djokovic (6/4) and Daniil Medvedev (6/1) in the pecking order, and level with Taylor Fritz, Matteo Berrettini and others at that 33/1 mark.
If he can live up to the billing and reach the final – or even win – the US Open, it would be a long overdue moment of success for men’s tennis in America. While the Williams sisters and Sloane Stephens have enjoyed major glory in recent times, you have to go back to 2003 to find the last time a men’s singles competitor from the United States won a Grand Slam event.
That came courtesy of Andy Roddick at the US Open, whose big-serving game finally got him to the Grand Slam title most expected to come earlier in his career.
Of course, Roddick can blame bad timing as he was just hitting his stride in the sport at the same time as Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, with Novak Djokovic breaking through shortly thereafter. We’ll never know for sure, of course, but it would be interesting to know how many majors Roddick would have won had he played in a different era.
With Federer now retired and Nadal seemingly heading that way, Tiafoe will have a golden opportunity to plant the American flag back at the top echelons of men’s tennis.
A Year to Remember
Building on his early promise, the 2023 season has been a good one for the man from Orlando.
He’s won three of the ATP Tour’s premier events outside of the majors, with two of those coming this year alone – the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in April and the Stuttgart Open in June.
Frances Tiafoe has moved up to a career-high world ranking of 10th after winning the Stuttgart Open on Sunday 😤
Along with Taylor Fritz in eighth, the U.S. now has two men in the ATP top 10 for the first time since May 2012‼️ pic.twitter.com/eSaaK6HYWn
— ESPN (@espn) June 19, 2023
Tiafoe’s consistency has swept him to the third round in all three of the Grand Slams in 2023 so far, while a run to the semi-finals of the Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells – where he pushed Medvedev all the way – is indicative of his growing comfort when playing against the best in the business.
But having taken the first set of his US Open semi-final 12 months ago, there will always be a ‘what if?’ mindset for Tiafoe at Flushing Meadows unless he can exorcize that demon at the next available opportunity this August and September.