Tennis-Tiafoe believes U.S. breakthrough will happen soon


Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 1, 2022 Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. in action during his third round match against Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik REUTERS/Paul Childs

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Roddick's U.S. Open triumph in 2003 remains the last time an American man won a Grand Slam title but Frances Tiafoe believes the current crop of players could soon end the drought.

Tiafoe, 24, was one of eight Americans to reach the third round of Wimbledon -- the most at any Slam since 1996 -- and led the charge on Friday when he beat Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik in four sets to move into the last 16.

He was soon joined in the fourth round by 25-year-old Tommy Paul who thrashed powerful Czech Jiri Vesely.

On Saturday, Jenson Brooksby, 21, Brandon Nakashima, 20, and 11th seed Taylor Fritz, 24, will all hope to join them while qualifier Jack Sock will fly the flag for the older generation.

With 37-year-old John Isner, who put out twice Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in round two before losing on Friday, still capable of doing damage at Slams, these are encouraging times for American men's tennis seeking to revive former glories.

Asked to explain the surge of Americans at Wimbledon this year, Tiafoe said it was simple: "We are damn good!.

"Playing great tennis. Guys are just good. Most of us were seeded, most seeded in Paris too. We're playing great tennis. I think we always feed off each other," he added.

"We all believe we can be doing even better than what we are doing currently. One guy does well, next guy wants to step up."

Tiafoe joined Isner and Sam Querrey amongst active Americans to reach the last 16 at four Grand Slams on Friday.

JUNIOR TALENT

The 23rd seed was tipped for the top when he was a prodigious junior talent and, while success has taken longer than some expected, he now looks the real deal.

Fritz, Nakashima and Brooksby are all yet to hit their peak too, so the future is bright.

"I thought this was going to be a good group for a long time. It was just good blood, Tiafoe said. "Fritz, Tommy, Reilly (Opelka), they all won junior slams. I was doing well."

With so many players pushing for their big breakthrough moment, Tiafoe says it has created a healthy competition.

"We were so happy for each other, genuinely wanted to see each other doing well. There was no jealousy," he said.

"No one was envious of someone doing well. People were like, all right, if he's doing it, well I can do it too. Now, here we are. So hopefully we can just keep doing that."

Tiafoe also said the lack of American success in men's Slams since Roddick's win over Juan Carlos Ferrero should be put into the context of what they were up against.

"Not many guys were winning Slams outside of the big three. I don't think it was an American problem," he said.

"A lot of great players in that era didn't win Slams. Doesn't matter what the flag looks like."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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