Outside the player’s garden at the US Open, Wizards’ All-Star Bradley Beal held a signature US Open Honey Deuce cocktail drink. He was celebrating Frances Tiafoe’s historic win over Andrey Rublev that made Tiafoe the first American male to make the Open semifinals since 2006.
Moments later, Tiafoe bound in with his team of advisers and embraced Beal for several seconds.
They met 10 years ago. Beal was just getting to the Wizards. Tiafoe, a Washington native, was a young teenager, his tennis career getting started.
Beal has emerged as a three-time All-Star and his tennis friend is emerging as a tennis star at age 24.
“I wouldn’t say [this is] unexpected,” Beal said amid the celebratory tumult. “Obviously, maybe because of the ranking, but like we told him yesterday as he was enjoying the moment. We were telling him, ‘Believe it. Believe you belong here. Believe you’ve worked so hard for this moment.’ ”
“ ‘This is your time. Embrace being on this stage,’ and he’s doing that. He’s living up to it. And he, like he said, he has two more.
Indeed, Tiafoe, who’s made his first Grand Slam semifinal, is two wins away from becoming the first American men’s champion since 2003 when Andy Roddick captured the crown.
Beal was in Tiafoe’s player’s box for the upset of Rafael Nadal and again Wednesday. It’s the first two tennis matches he’s seen live.
“It’s 100 percent [different],” Beal said. “I have huge respect for tennis players and anyone in an individual sport. It’s tough. You can’t talk to your box, can’t interact. You’ve got to be locked in and show intensity for four hours. It’s a mind game to the maximum.”
Beal has a newborn in Washington and was headed home, hoping to be back for the weekend.
“Super excited for him,” Beal said. “To see how he’s grown. I met him when I got to DC He was a little kid coming up trying to make a name for myself and so was I. I can’t be more proud of him.”