Tennis’s Rising Stars Will Be in Austin This Weekend

Carlos Alcaraz defeats Frances Tiafoe at the US Open semifinals in a battle of tennis’ rising stars.

AUSTIN, Texas — The 2017 season is nearly over, but two of the game’s rising stars will be in Austin this weekend.

The defending champion who’s become the sport’s most dominant player in recent memory, Rafael Nadal, will be in town to play at The Open — but Tiafoe will be there, too, in hopes of becoming the first American to reach a Grand Slam semifinal, and to add his name to a list featuring the likes of James Blake, Kevin Anderson, and Fernando Gonzalez.

“A few years ago me and Fernando went to the same university — University of California, Berkeley,” Tiafoe told ESPN after the loss to Nadal. “We hung out in the dorms. Me and him, we actually used to play tennis when we were in college.”

The two former top-20 players have only played in 22 career Grand Slam matches, but are now considered two of the sport’s rising stars. It’s a level of competition the 30-year-old Spaniard, who first climbed into the top 20 in 2011, has not been able to compete with in recent years, and has instead looked forward to his first Major in years.

“I think the game has been very good to me. I haven’t felt it as a complete player,” Tiafoe said. “It’s been difficult for me to play a complete tennis match for a long time. So I like coming here, because it’s an opportunity for me to have a good tournament, and put myself in a position where I can challenge.

“I’m excited. I have a few matches today. I was looking forward to playing at this great level and the competition, and it was a good opportunity for me to go to the U.S. Open and play Rafa.”

Tennis is one of the most unpredictable sports. It’s unpredictable in its rise. It’s unpredictable in its demise.

But the unpredictability of the sport is a good thing. It’s exactly what a

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