Frances Tiafoe has nothing to apologize for. He helped reinvigorate males’s tennis

Frances Tiafoe apologized to the group, however he had nothing to apologize for.

He had simply misplaced a heartbreaking semifinal on the U.S. Open, however he had gained the admiration of tens of millions who had by no means paid a lot consideration or gone out of their method to watch him play tennis.

Within the aftermath of a five-set loss to 19-year-old phenom Carlos Alcaraz after 4 hours, 19 minutes on Friday, Tiafoe vowed to win this match at some point.

However perhaps that’s inappropriate.

If these final two weeks signify who the 24-year outdated American will be, the subsequent decade of males’s tennis goes to be actually, actually enjoyable to observe.

There shouldn’t be even an oz of disgrace for Tiafoe shedding an epic (6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-7, 6-3) to Alcaraz, who’s one of the best teenage prospect to emerge since Rafael Nadal burst onto the scene in 2005 as an 18-year-old successful the French Open. Tiafoe battled, performed with super coronary heart, got here up with otherworldly pictures and pushed Alcaraz to the brink. It simply wasn’t fairly sufficient.

However the prime quality of the match, the leisure worth of those two good gamers going forwards and backwards underneath the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium and the charisma they each displayed made Friday’s semifinal a particular occasion that ought to give each outdated tennis followers and up to date ones a variety of hope for what the game will be.

“Clearly I’d have liked to win tonight,” Tiafoe mentioned. “However I feel tennis gained tonight.”

Frances Tiafoe celebrates after successful a fourth set tiebreaker towards Carlos Alcaraz.

For the all the priority about what it’s going to appear to be when Roger Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic fade away for good, the gorgeous factor about this sport is that there’s all the time another person coming and elevating the bar for what’s potential. If that is what Grand Slam tennis seems like within the post-Huge Three period, the game goes to be greater than nice.

There’s little doubt that Alcaraz, who will play his first Grand Slam last on Sunday towards Norway’s Casper Ruud, goes to have a variety of these moments. He’s such an amazing expertise, with an virtually unprecedented package deal of energy, contact, health and nerve, that Grand Slam titles may very nicely are available in bunches.

The query is whether or not this U.S. Open was a second in time for Tiafoe or the beginning of one thing massive. Let’s hope it’s the latter, as a result of when Tiafoe is as sharp and dialed in as he was throughout this match, he makes the complete tour extra fascinating, extra relatable and a complete lot extra enjoyable.

It is a man who introduced NBA gamers like Bradley Beal to their first tennis match and impressed tweets from LeBron James and Patrick Mahomes. He introduced former first girl Michelle Obama to the semifinals. His story, choosing up the sport at a tennis facility the place his immigrant father was a custodian, is an inspiration and an instance of what’s potential for American tennis if a few of this nation’s nice athletes get the chance to play this sport.

These are all issues that tennis wants badly because it transitions away from a two-decade period dominated by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic within the males’s sport and Serena Williams on the ladies’s aspect. Having an thrilling Black American male within the combine for giant titles could be an amazing reward to a sport that generally struggles to interrupt via to the plenty exterior of the 4 Grand Slams.

However it is going to be as much as Tiafoe to make that occur. And hopefully he can use this U.S. Open run as inspiration for better achievements somewhat than a one-off run that can be arduous to copy sooner or later.

Honestly, it’s arduous to know which path his profession will take. As shut as Tiafoe got here to enjoying for a Grand Slam title, the fact is that he’s by no means come near a consequence like this earlier than. As Chris Fowler identified on ESPN, the largest semifinal he had ever performed in earlier than Friday was final fall within the Vienna Erste Financial institution Open.

That isn’t in any respect an indictment of Tiafoe’s profession. On Monday, he can be a career-high Nineteenth on the earth rankings, which is a reasonably superb achievement in any context. However in basketball, soccer or baseball, being the Nineteenth-best participant on the earth makes you tens of tens of millions of {dollars} yearly and earns worldwide fame and respect. In tennis, it earns you a pleasant dwelling with out a variety of cultural relevance.

It’s clear from the way in which he performed at this U.S. Open that Tiafoe is able to greater than what he’s proven to this point in his profession, which had beforehand seen him make only one Grand Slam quarterfinal (2019 Australian Open) and win one ATP title (2018 Delray Seaside). Too typically, he is been suffering from inconsistency, lapses of focus or incapacity to shut out matches he ought to win. But when Tiafoe can course of what occurred Friday the appropriate method, a consequence like this one needs to be jet gasoline for his profession.

“I simply proved that actually, I imply, I can play with one of the best clearly, and I am able to successful Grand Slams,” he mentioned.. “I feel everybody knew once I play my finest what I may do. However you know the way shut I can really be to be a type of guys and to do that persistently. Clearly via my profession I have been fairly sporadic of enjoying nicely, veering off for some time. I’ve all the time backed myself towards one of the best gamers on the earth. I am doing it on a constant foundation, beginning to beat guys extra readily. Able to take the subsequent step.”

The following step, although, could not essentially be a Grand Slam title. Tennis is a sport that captures most people’s creativeness 4 occasions a 12 months, however the actual work is completed via the week-in, week-out grind on the tour.

Tiafoe confirmed that his high-end degree is nice sufficient to beat Nadal and almost adequate to be within the U.S. Open last, however the secret is constructing sufficient successful muscle reminiscence so {that a} run like this doesn’t appear to be a Cinderella story.

With Alcaraz surviving three consecutive five-set matches and Tiafoe breaking via to his first Slam semifinal, this U.S. Open felt like the primary time tennis went mainstream exterior of the Huge Three. If he can capitalize on this exceptional run and proceed to provide that prime degree play, Tiafoe has a giant position in ensuring it stays that method.

This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Frances Tiafoe’s US Open run could also be turning level for American tennis