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US Open 2023: For Frances Tiafoe—And the Other Americans at the Tournament—A Show of Strength. How Far Can They Go?

Today’s quarterfinals include 6th-seeded Gauff, who has electrified fans and terrified opponents so far, squaring off against Ostapenko. The two are 1-1 head-to-head, though Gauff would seem to have an easier time of it against Ostapenko than did Swiatek: While Ostapenko was clearly playing hot against Swiatek, she’s rarely managed to string together an impressive run over top-ranked players at a major (save for in 2017, when she won the French Open as an unseeded player).

Tomorrow, Keys—a 2017 US Open finalist who’s been enjoying something of a return to form here—plays ninth-seeded Czech player Marketa Vondrousova, while second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka—who, because of Swiatek’s loss, will become the new number one-ranked player in the world when the rankings are updated next Monday, after the tournament—plays 23rd-seeded Qinwen Zheng of China, who’s been riding a rocket.

Ben Shelton, celebrating after his victory against Tommy Paul on Sunday.

Photo: Getty Images

On the men’s side, fewer upsets so far, but more records: 10th-seeded Frances Tiafoe, ninth-seeded Taylor Fritz, and unseeded Ben Shelton are all headed to the quarters—the first time that three American men have made it that far at the Open since 2005. (This year, the main draw featured three more Americans, Tommy Paul, Christopher Eubanks, and Sebastian Korda—the most since 2004.) It’s also the first major tournament since 1968—that’s 55 years ago—in which more than one Black American man made it to the quarters. The energy at Tiafoe’s matches in particular has been palpable: His matches in Louis Armstrong Stadium—the second-largest of the venues at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center—have been deafening spectacles in front of overflow crowds, with lines of fans snaking across the grounds of the Open, waiting to get in merely for a standing-room-only peek at the action.

It’s a show of strength that’s been a long time building: No American man has won the Open since Andy Roddick in 2003—and, with both Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz still in the mix, it’s unlikely that’ll change—but Fritz will play Djokovic this afternoon and do his best to prove everybody wrong, while Shelton plays Tiafoe tonight in prime time, with the winner of that match playing the winner of Fritz-Djokovic in the semis.



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