It has been two decades since an American man last won the US Open and soaked in the cheers of the home crowd while lifting aloft the trophy.
That was Andy Roddick in 2003, but there is renewed hope for such a feat to repeat itself as four American male players will compete in the fourth round, the most to reach this stage of the tournament for more than a decade.
Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Ben Shelton will all be in action on Sunday – Paul and Shelton playing each other while Tiafoe will face Australia’s Rinky Hijikata and Fritz will take on Switzerland’s Dominic Stricker.
“We’ve all been hearing about who’s going to be the next American (after) Andy Roddick 20 years ago our entire careers. We all want it so bad,” Fritz said, according to Reuters.
Fritz, as the No. 9 seed, is the highest ranked American in the draw but is already predicting that one of his compatriots will reach the semifinal.
“I was like, wow, one of these guys on their side, is for sure making it to the semi-finals,” he said, according to Eurosport. “Not to put pressure on them, but…
“That’s just what I thought personally. I was like, I wonder who it’s going to be, but one of them is going to be in the semis.”
Tiafoe reached the semifinals at Flushing Meadows last year, becoming the first Black American man since Arthur Ashe in 1972 to do so.
His performance at this US Open marks his best grand slam result this year, and he paid tribute to his compatriots after his four-set victory over France’s Adrian Mannarino in the third round.
“This is a group that had a lot of ability. Always had a lot of talent,” Tiafoe said, according to Reuters.
“You look at…Tommy Paul, took him a while to get going. He believes more than anybody right now. Taylor obviously has been playing well for a while. Myself. Ben, he’s had an up-and-down year, but now he’s playing great tennis. It’s good to see a lot of players playing well. Hopefully we just keep doing it.”
The excitement in the US about this current crop of players has been building for a while, as it has become more familiar again to see American men in the latter stages of grand slam tournaments.
Paul and Shelton played each other earlier this year in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and Paul became the first American man to reach a semifinal at that tournament since Roddick in 2009.
“Obviously around the grounds, everyone is really stoked and excited about the Americans,” Paul told the Washington Post. “Every time I pass one of the TVs here, it’s like, ‘Is an American going to win a Slam for the first time [in] 20 years?’”
In 2017, four American women reached the semifinals of the US Open with Sloane Stephens going on to with the tournament.
Coco Gauff is so far the only American woman to reach the fourth round of this year’s tournament, though Madison Keys and Jessica Pegula are still in contention at time of publication.