Two of the final three Americans remaining in the Australian Open singles draw will compete in their respective quarterfinal matches on Monday night, as Frances Tiafoe and Danielle Collins find themselves in unfamiliar, yet comfortable, territory (the third American remaining, Serena Williams, is very familiar with being at this stage of a Grand Slam).
Collins began her fortnight in Melbourne having never won a match in the main draw of a Grand Slam, but that did nothing to fray her confidence.
“I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this week,” said Collins after reaching the quarterfinals. “But I gotta tell you, I think it’s gonna keep happening.”
She has now won four matches Down Under, including victories over 13th seed Julia Goerges, 19th seed Caroline Garcia and, most recently, a 6-0, 6-2 thrashing of second-seed and former champion Angelique Kerber.
The former University of Virginia standout now prepares for her quarterfinal showdown against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who ousted Collins’ countrywoman Sloane Stephens in the previous round.
“Everybody gets their shot at the pie. Right now I’m certainly getting mine,” she said. “I’m doing very well. I’m just kind of focused on that.”
Tiafoe is set to take on Rafael Nadal later tonight for a spot in the final four. The 21-year-old American ousted 20th seed Grigor Dimitrov in four sets in his previous match.
“It means the world. I worked my ass off, man,” Tiafoe said on-court after his most recent victory. “I told my parents 10 years ago I was going to be a pro and change my life, change their life. Now I’m in the quarters of a slam at 21-years-old—I can’t believe it.”
It wasn’t too long ago that Tiafoe was one of the faces of the new generation of American men’s tennis, and that notion seems to be coming to fruition much quicker than people would have thought a couple of years ago. The son of Sierra Leone immigrants celebrated his 21st birthday just the other day, and one of the presents he received is a quarterfinal date with the 17-time Grand Slam champion Nadal.
“He’s going to run me like crazy. I got to go to sleep now, matter of fact,” Tiafoe said looking ahead to his clash with the Spaniard. “We’re going to have some fun, going to have some long rallies. I hope I can play on [Rod] Laver [Arena]. That would be cool.”