(Reuters) – NEW YORK (Reuters) – In a see-saw match, fifth seed Andrey Rublev was defeated 4-6 6-3 7-6(6) 4-6 6-1 by American Frances Tiafoe, who advanced to the fourth round of the US Open on Friday.
Tiafoe was fueled by the home crowd, who stayed behind to cheer every point the 23-year-old won in a game that lasted nearly four hours and ended at 2:15 a.m. local time.
“You’re the reason I finished it tonight. In his on-court interview, Tiafoe said, “You guys stuck with me all the way through.”
“I adore these matches… they’re the ones I prepare for. I came here thinking, “I’m going to beat him.” Let’s continue.”
Rublev won the first set on the strength of a powerful service game, but Tiafoe came back in the second to keep the match close.
Despite the limited crowd still present, the clamor was deafening as the American saved a set point in the third set tiebreak before moving 2-1 ahead.
Rublev restored his composure in the fourth as he won four consecutive games to force a decider after falling behind 4-2.
But in the fifth, Tiafoe found a new level of energy, and his forehands became faster and stronger, giving Rublev no time to settle down as the American rapidly stormed to a 5-0 lead before serving out the set.
“I’ve lost a lot of five-setters,” says the player. I’d just been pumped up… Tiafoe, who finished with 69 winners and 23 aces, continued, “I wasn’t going to leave this court without winning tonight.”
Tiafoe will face Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3.
“Felix is another of my close friends, but I’m coming after him.”
(In Bengaluru, Rohith Nair reported; Shri Navaratnam edited)