Carlos Alcaraz defeats Frances Tiafoe at the US Open semifinals in a battle of tennis’ rising stars.
In June, Tiafoe beat three-time major champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-2 to reach his second consecutive US Open semi-final. But he made history by becoming the first player in the Open Era to fail to make the US Open final since Jack Kramer in 1953. His run of finals failures in 2019 was a sign that his tennis power was fading away, as it had been in 2018.
This was Tiafoe’s second straight US Open semifinal, and his fourth in the past five years. He did not, however, make it to the final for the first time since the 2015 US Open, which would mark his fourth straight appearance as the number one seed, and fourth time in six years.
Tennis is, naturally, the sport Tiafoe, 27, admires most in the world. He grew up worshiping tennis greats who were his heroes: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and, naturally, Novak.
This is a man who says he can only appreciate a player who “has the balls to get the job done,” which is also how he describes himself.
Tiafoe, to use a word of his own that is sometimes used to describe him, is an example of the “lovable loser.” He is a 6’4, 235-pound former world No. 2 who was once in the top 10 of the world rankings, but has had a fall.
He has battled a hip injury, broken his foot twice, had his ranking drop to No. 7 and, in February, his ranking reached a low of No. 48. He is arguably the finest pure tennis player in the world and has won eight Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal. He has been described by the president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) as one of the “the greatest five athletes in tennis history,” and his peers in the locker room call him “the American God.”
Tiafoe has made