Frances Tiafoe wants to etch his name into Citi Open history


As the best run of his career at the Citi Open stretches on, Frances Tiafoe has an issue. He keeps breaking promises to his agent.

“I had like 56 tickets coming today. I keep telling my agent, ‘Yeah, this is the last one, last one.’ Someone comes out of the woodwork,” he said.

Friends’ and family members’ requests for tickets is one of the handful of not-so-problematic problems Tiafoe faces when he plays in Washington, in front of the closest thing he has to a home crowd on the ATP Tour. Pressure to represent the region well is another. On Friday, the Maryland native deftly handled both as he defeated the No. 8 seed Botic Van De Zandschulp, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, in a match spread across two days due to a weather delay.

It is his first berth into the Citi Open quarterfinals in his sixth appearance at the tournament. Tiafoe made his first main draw appearance in an ATP Tour event here as a 16-year-old wild card in 2014.

At Citi Open, it’s grind and survive in the heat of a D.C. summer

“Playing here in D.C., honestly, it could be if it was a 250 [level tournament] or whatever … I mean, to win this tournament would mean the world to me,” Tiafoe said earlier this week. “I have been coming to this tournament since I was 4 years old. To have my name around the stadium would mean a lot to me.”

Tiafoe’s sharp play in Washington, which he punctuated Friday with his usual roars and appeals to a crowd hollering its support for “Big Foe,” follows a semifinal appearance in Atlanta last week and a fourth-round loss at Wimbledon as he gains momentum heading into the U.S. Open.

His next match, scheduled for Friday night if weather permits, should be a doozy with the exact type of amped-up atmosphere he craves. Tiafoe is set to face the 2019 Citi Open champion and his doubles partner in last year’s tournament, Nick Kyrgios. The Aussie ousted Reilly Opelka, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, in another match spread out over two days.

For that matchup, Tiafoe will most certainly need more tickets.

He was joined Friday in the quarterfinals by 22-year-old Floridian Sebastian Korda, who advanced with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over fifth-seed Grigor Dimitrov.

No. 1 seed Andrey Rublev will face 23-year-old Ohioan J.J. Wolf, who has shorn his infamous mullet since his last Citi Open appearance but defeated ninth-seeded Holger Rune, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, nonetheless.

In the women’s tournament, tour veteran Kaia Kanepi was the only player to advance to the semifinals before weather delays kicked in Friday evening. The 37-year-old defeated Anna Kalinskaya, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-3.

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