Having already changed the lives of his immigrant parents, Frances Tiafoe is hopeful to build on his own stature in the game as he prepares for an Australian Open quarter-final clash with Rafa Nadal on Tuesday. American Tiafoe, the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, recalled his humble beginnings after stunning Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday to reach the last eight at a major for the first time in his career.
“I told my parents 10 years ago I was gonna be a pro tennis player and change their life. Now I’m in the quarter-finals of a Slam. I can’t believe it,” world number 39 Tiafoe said. “The beginning of my career, I was playing for them, trying to do everything for my family. Obviously now I put them in a great place. Now I’m trying to do it for me.”
Tiafoe, who turned 21 on Sunday, faces a tough test as he bids to keep the big dream alive, with 2009 champion Nadal in ruthless form coming into the contest at Rod Laver Arena. The Spaniard has not dropped a set so far in the tournament but said after his victory over Tomas Berdych in the last round that he did not expect his first career meeting with Tiafoe to be as smooth.
“Going to be a tough one, as you can expect in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam,” Nadal said. “I played some good matches until that round and now is the moment to keep doing steps forward, to keep having chances.”
Nadal’s compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut plays Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, the conqueror of 20-times Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, in another quarter-final clash.
Among the women, Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova meets fellow unseeded player in Danielle Collins while Czech Petra Kvitova runs into local favourite Ashleigh Barty.