After beating No. 20 seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (1), 7-5 on Sunday, College Park, Md. native Frances Tiafoe celebrated advancing to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal the same way he did just one round earlier: ripping his shirt off, slapping his biceps and chest, and using all the energy he had left to give a powerful yell.
The emotions carried over to the post-match interview, where Tiafoe needed a couple moments to collect himself before giving a complete answer. The interviewer was more than accommodating, which was more than fair given that this victory came on the same day as his 21st birthday.
After the tears had been mostly fought off he said the following:
It means the world. I worked my ass off, man. You know, I told my parents 10 years ago I was going to be a pro and I was going to change their life and my life and now I’m in the quarters of a Slam at 21 years old. I can’t believe it, man.
He may have been lost for words in the immediate aftermath of what had just happened, but he snapped back to reality when he was asked about his potential upcoming opponent, No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal.
Yea, I can’t do anything he’s going to run me like crazy. I gotta go to sleep now, matter of fact. Hopefully he wins, man. I’ve been watching him play for so many years. If I can play him in the quarterfinals of the slam, hopefully at night or sometime later, that would mean the world to me.
There’s very little reason to believe Tiafoe will get much, if anything on Nadal in their upcoming match—which was confirmed soon after the interview. The Spaniard beat out Tomas Berdych with a 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 (4) win to advance to the quarterfinals. He won the first nine games of the match. Still, given the wild run Tiafoe has been on recently, Nadal better be ready.