Frances Tiafoe was right when he said his U.S. Open quarterfinal match against fellow American Ben Shelton was going to be a win for tennis, as it marked the first time two black men faced one another that far into the tournament.
The World No. 10, however, was on the losing end of the historic match.
Instead, it was Shelton who came out on top in the biggest match of his young career.
The 20-year-old stunned Tiafoe 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(9), 6-2 in front of a dedicated late-night crowd to secure a spot in the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic, a player who turned pro when Shelton was just a year old, awaits him.
The significance of Tuesday night’s match was not lost on either player, but Shelton’s emotion powered him to victory.
Shelton said Tiafoe has been like a brother to him since he’s been on tour, so it was a meaningful win for a multitude of reasons.
“I feel like I left it all out here tonight, emotional battle,” Shelton said during his post-match interview.