Frances Tiafoe earned the biggest victory of his career on Monday against Rafael Nadal at the US Open. The thrilling moment became even more surreal when he returned to the locker room.
The American learned that NBA legend LeBron James had tweeted about his big win. That was huge considering Tiafoe has used James’ ‘Silencer’ celebration in the past.
“CONGRATS Young King!!! You earned it! @FTiafoe,” James tweeted, before following up with another tweet. “KEEP GOING!!!!! #StriveForGreatness”
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 5, 2022
“Man, I was losing it in the locker room. Bro, I was going crazy,” Tiafoe said, cracking a smile. “That’s my guy. So to see him post that, I was like, ‘Do I retweet it as soon as he sent it?’ I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to be cool and act like I didn’t see it and then retweet it three hours later.’
“Obviously he knows I’m a big fan of his. Got a text from Rich Paul as well. That’s super cool. The fact they’re watching right now. It’s a perfect time. US Open is always a perfect time because there’s no real sports really going on. People can focus on tennis, which is great.”
That was not the only basketball player who tuned into Tiafoe’s victory. Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal was in the American’s player box. Cameras caught Beal getting fired up for the home favourite throughout the match. Tiafoe, who is from the Washington area, is a big Wizards fan.
“Obviously saw Bradley Beal in there. His first tennis match, that was super cool, talking to him after,” Tiafoe said. “He wants to come again. It was cool. Special day for me.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 5, 2022
One of the best players in the NBA, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, also tweeted about Tiafoe’s match. “FRANCES TIAFOE!!!!!” he wrote. Before the tournament, Tiafoe practised in an Embiid jersey.
— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) September 5, 2022
As exciting as seeing all that is for Tiafoe, the best moment came on the court. He had never previously defeated a member of the ‘Big Three’: Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. His reward for doing so is a maiden trip to the US Open quarter-finals and a deafening reception from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.
“I was telling my agent, I felt like the world stopped. I couldn’t hear anything for a minute. Even shaking his hand, I don’t even know what I said to him. It was such a blur,” Tiafoe said. “I was already tearing. I could barely see him and my team. Everyone was up. It was just wild. My heart is going a thousand miles an hour. I was so excited. I was like, ‘Let me sit down’.
“I’ve never felt something like that in my life, honestly.”