Frances Tiafoe makes U.S. Open semifinals, ends American men’s drought

Frances Tiafoe
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Frances Tiafoe beat Andrey Rublev to become the first American man to reach the U.S. Open semifinals since Andy Roddick in 2006.

Tiafoe, a 24-year-old ranked 26th in the world, took out the 11th-ranked Russian Rublev 7-6 (3), 7-6 (0), 6-4 for his best run ever in a Grand Slam tournament.

The victory came two days after Tiafoe ousted 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal, becoming the first American born in 1988 or later to beat Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer at a Slam.

“Had the biggest win of my life 24 hours ago, and coming out and getting another big win — Andrey’s a hell of a player — to back it up, that’s huge growth,” he said.

U.S. OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

Tiafoe, the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone who as a kid slept at the tennis center where his dad was a janitor, gets fourth-ranked Carlos Alcaraz of Spain or 13th-ranked Jannik Sinner of Italy in Friday’s semifinals.

“Hopefully there will be a movie about [Tiafoe’s life story] one day,” said his coach since 2020, former world No. 6 Wayne Ferreira of South Africa. “But he has to win the Grand Slam first. You only get movies if you do well.

“I kind of imagine he would be at his best by the end of next year would be a timeline that would be suitable for the growth he needs to do.”

In a post-match, on-court interview, Tiafoe encouraged the crowd to enjoy this victory, but “we’ve got two more [matches to win], guys.”

“Everyone loves a Cinderella story,” he said later. “Just trying to make one.”

Since Roddick was runner-up at the 2006 U.S. Open, four different American men combined to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals seven times, all of them losing, before Tiafoe this year. Tiafoe is the first American man to reach the semifinals of any Slam since John Isner at 2018 Wimbledon.

The last U.S. man to make a major final was Roddick at 2009 Wimbledon. Roddick was also the last U.S. man to win a major at the 2003 U.S. Open. Both of those droughts are by far the longest in U.S. men’s tennis in history.

Coupled with Jessica Pegula’s loss later Wednesday, Tiafoe’s run marks the first time in 44 majors that the best U.S. singles result outright is by a man.

“I just so happen to be the guy doing the run right now,” Tiafoe said, noting recent improvements from 24-year-old Taylor Fritz (Indian Wells champion, Wimbledon quarterfinalist this year) and 25-year-olds Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul. “I’m sure come next year in the Slams, they will be doing just exactly the same. Everyone is super capable. American tennis is in a great place.

“We are all starting to really get into our primes, and we will see where that takes us.”

Tiafoe made more history, becoming the first Black American man to reach a U.S. Open semifinal since Arthur Ashe, whose name adorns the court on which Tiafoe triumphed Wednesday.

“At the end of the day I love that because of Frances Tiafoe there is a lot of people of color playing tennis,” he said. “That’s obviously a goal for me. That’s why I’m out here trying pretty hard.”

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Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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