Having dumped junk food like cookies and candy, Frances Tiafoe is now on the best Grand Slam run of his career.
The American defeated ninth seed Andrey Rublev 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 on Wednesday to reach the semifinal of US Open.
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Tiafoe owes his new-found discipline to coach Wayne Ferreira.
Frances Tiafoe becomes the first Black 🇺🇸 man to reach a #USOpen semifinal since Arthur Ashe in 1972.
He did it on the court named after Ashe. #BeOpen pic.twitter.com/IEJtqCe2vo
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 7, 2022
“Food intake was terrible at the beginning,” said Ferreira, who has been Tiafoe’s coach since 2020.
South Africa’s Ferreira is a former top six player who made the quarter-finals himself in New York in 1992.
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“The effort on the practices and on the court wasn’t good enough,” he added.
“He liked a lot of candy and chocolates and cookies. He’d eat at unusual times. He missed breakfast a lot…he was, in my opinion, not really professional enough.”
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Tiafoe, who defeated Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, became the first American man to make the semi-finals at the US Open since Andy Roddick in 2006.
Ferreira believes the Tiafoe story is the stuff of movies.
The son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, Tiafoe is just two wins away from becoming the first African-American men’s title winner in New York since Arthur Ashe in 1968.
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Even if he falls in the semi-finals, Tiafoe is guaranteed to break into the world top 20 for the first time.
“It’s a great story. Hopefully there will be a movie about it one day. But he has to win the Grand Slam first,” added Ferreira.
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“But his story is very unique, and it’s a great story. He’s very humble. He’s a very, very nice individual.
“Very great heart and kind. You’ve got to love him. He’s truly special.”
Tiafoe will take on Carlos Alcaraz for the place in the 2022 US Open final.