Frances Tiafoe had praised Felix Auger-Aliassime’s box office draw. The Canadian lived up to that billing, storming back to reach his second straight major quarterfinal.
“I dreamed of it, but the path wasn’t clear,” Auger-Aliassime said in a post-match TV interview. “I needed a lot of belief to be in that position one day.”
The 12th-seeded Auger-Aliassime rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over Tiafoe on Sunday night. He overcame early nerves, a partisan crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the upset-minded American to reach the final eight at Flushing Meadows.
“Definitely this is one of a kind. You guys are the best I don’t know what to say; you guys are amazing. I understand now. Supporting your fellow American. He deserved to be applauded; he’s done an amazing effort,” Auger-Aliassime told the crowd of their loud support of Tiafoe. “I hope this inspires other kids in New York and Canada and all over the world.”
The 21-year-old Canadian ended up with two dozen aces and only dropped serve once all night to win in three hours and 23 minutes.
Tiafoe won the first set, but even then he was really walking a tightrope. The Maryland product faced eight break points, but managed to save every single one of them to take the first set 6-4.
But Auger-Aliassime — who was a little nervous in the first set — started edging up more in the second. He found his confidence and turned the match. He ended up winning points on 84 percent of his first serves, and once he got rolling, Tiafoe couldn’t slow him down.
By the end, Auger-Aliassime clinched it on a forehand winner. Next he’ll move on to the quarterfinals, facing 18-year-old phenom Carlos Alcaraz of Spain.
“He’s a great player,” Auger-Aliassime said of Alcaraz. “At some point, age is just a number. He already feels like a player that’s established. I think we’ll see a lot of him in the future.”
The USTA will recognize and honor United States military members on Monday’s Labor Day card during Lt. Joe Hunt Military Appreciation Day.
It marks the day’s ninth anniversary. It honors Hunt, the only player in history to win the U.S. national boys’, junior, collegiate and men’s tennis singles titles. Hunt, who won the U.S. Nationals in 1943 while on leave from the Navy, was killed in the line of duty when his fighter plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 1945.
— Marc Berman contributed to this report.