Despite capturing the attention of the tennis world with a thrilling five set loss to Roger Federer at the 2017 U.S. Open, Frances Tiafoe was still looking for his first significant breakthrough at an ATP level event.
On Thursday at the New York Open, Tiafoe broke through.
He reached his first career ATP Quarterfinal after defeating veteran Israeli Dudi Sela 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.
Tiafoe showed great mental toughness throughout the match, saving eight of nine break point opportunities for Sela. He stayed composed after dropping the second set, and dominated the third set without dropping a game.
Tiafoe also showed great touch against Sela, successfully utilizing the drop shot on multiple occasions. “Today my hands were soft. Guess I put some good Nivea on this morning,” joked Tiafoe.
Tiafoe will take on Kevin Anderson in Friday’s quarterfinal after Anderson defeated American qualifier Ernesto Escobedo 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) on Thursday.
Escobedo showed great fight against the top-seeded Anderson, serving 13 aces, and only losing his serve once over the course of the match. After Anderson took a 6-2 lead in the third set tie-breaker, Escobedo saved three match points before falling to the 6’ 8” South African.
Ivo Karlovic also booked his place in the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over 6th seeded American Ryan Harrison. Karlovic served 16 aces and saved the only break point that he faced.
In the night session, American Sam Querrey beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-3.
Despite being a major underdog, the 35-year old Youzhny came out strong, battling Querrey to four games all in the first set. But Querrey broke Youzhny to love on his next service game, winning the first set 6-4.
In the second set, Querrey broke Youzhny with a beautiful backhand lob to take a 4-2 lead. Sam held serve the rest of the way, closing out the match with a vicious inside-out forehand that clipped the line.
After the match, Querrey complimented the unique playing environment at the New York Open. “I loved the black court,” Querrey stated. “It looks really cool. The whole setup in there is great. It’s different. It’s unique, and I really like it.”
In doubles action on Thursday, Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin pulled off a major upset, beating the top seeded Bryan brothers 6-4, 6-4.
In other doubles action, Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson defeated Robert Lindstedt and Franko Skugor 6-1, 6-7(4), 10-7.
Max Myrni and Philipp Oswald beat Ben Mclachlan and Hugo Nys 4-6, 6-3, 10-5.
The doubles team of Radu Albot and Nikoloz Basilashvili didn’t even have to play on Thursday in order to advance. They were given automatic entry to the semi-finals after Treat Huey and Peter Gojowczyk withdrew.