Frances Tiafoe qualified for her first Grand Slam semi-final at the expense of Rublev

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Frances Tiafoe qualified for her first Grand Slam semi-final at the expense of Rublev

Frances Tiafoe handled her win over Rafael Nadal well in the previous round to become the first American to reach the semi-finals of the US Open since Andy Roddick in 2006. With his fire and expressiveness quick to delight the crowd at Arthur-Ashe Stadium, he qualified for his first semi-final in a Grand Slam tournament, beating Andrey Rublev (7-6 [3]7-6 [0], 6-4), in a tournament more open than ever. He will be opposed to the winner of the match between Sinner and Alcaraz played on the night of Wednesday to Thursday.

In this quarter-final, he knew how to be both intense in the rhythmic rallies and more imaginative than Andrey Rublev. And that’s all that made the (small) difference. Choosing to run to the net to break the rhythm (20 climbs in the first set), seeking the KO on second ball returns, Tiafoe stopped the Russian’s cinder block machine.

Everything was first played on the first two tie-breaks in this match where the expressive expressions of the American contrasted with the fury and frustration of a Russian who hit his leg with his rackets. In the first round, the Russian capitulated by committing a few unforced errors. That of the second set, insane, saw a Tiafoe in all fullness put on the aces, the winning returns and the amortized volleys to liquefy Rublev, unable to score a single point.

Rublev’s glass ceiling

In this US Open, the American played six tie-breaks, and he won six of them. This Wednesday evening, he also masterfully surfed his face-offs, saving three break points out of three, the first at 5-6 in the first set which was a set point for Rublev (big forehand offset) and the two others 4-3 in the third set, when he had just taken his opponent’s serve for what was the only (decisive) break of the game.

Like on a mission, Tiafoe saved the first with a second deep ball that touched the line, and the second with a wonder volley. With 87% of points won on his first ball, nothing could stop him. And he concluded the parade with an ace after 2h39 of play. As for Rublev, he can always brood on his glass ceiling. He was playing his sixth Grand Slam quarter-final. And this is his sixth defeat.

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