MELBOURNE, Australia — Frances Tiafoe (USA) celebrated his 21st birthday with a memory to last a lifetime. The American had already collected numerous career-first’s - recording his highest-ranked win in the second round, capturing his first-ever five-set victory, and advancing to the second week of a major for the first time - before stepping onto the court against Grigor Dimitrov in the round of 16.
Nicknamed “Big Foe,” the young American, who has made international headlines for his post-match celebrations influenced by NBA superstar LeBron James, was in emotional disbelief after his four-set, three-and-a-half-hour victory over Dimitrov. Tiafoe, who was introduced to tennis at a club where his dad was a janitor, was on the verge of tears as he reflected on his unorthodox path to the quarterfinals of a major.
“I told my parents 10 years ago I was going to be a pro and change my life, change their life,” said Tiafoe. “Now I’m in the quarters of a slam at 20 years old – 21 years old – I can’t believe it.”
Tiafoe will play Rafael Nadal, who has yet to drop a set all tournament, for a spot in the semifinals.
On the women’s side, two Team Yonex stars met in the fourth round on Rod Laver Arena during the day session on Monday. Naomi Osaka (JPN) and Anastasija Sevastova (LAT), who had split their previous four meetings, faced off on Rod Laver for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Sevastova, who reached the fourth round for the first time since 2011, was able to break Osaka early in the opening set and never faced a break point to take a one-set lead. However, like she did in the previous round, Osaka fought back to force the match to a decider.
“I was thinking I’ve been in this position before,” said Osaka, who was down a set and 1-4 in her third round match. “Last time was a little bit worse.”
The pair traded service breaks halfway through the third set, but it was Osaka, who converted on three of four break points opportunities, that was able to take the lead for good with a break at 4-3 to advance to her first quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
One of her inspirations for her match today? Frances Tiafoe, who watched the match as a fan from the stands.
“[Frances] came out here against the top players and won,” said Osaka, who crushed 51 winners throughout the match. “I wanted to do that as well.”
Osaka will play sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina for a spot in the semifinals on Wednesday.
Yonex x Australian Open
The Yonex Stringing Team is the Official Stringing Team of the Australian Open for the fourth straight year. With honed skills and robust knowhow, the Yonex Stringing Team is an international team of experts dedicated to providing the world standard of racquet stringing. The team is supported by an arsenal of high-quality, Japan made stringing machines (PT8 Deluxe) that assist in precise re-strings.
#TeamYonex in Melbourne