NEW YORK (AP) — As Frances Tiafoe celebrated with friends and family, Bradley Beal wrapped his arms around him for a hug.
Beal had never attended a tennis tournament until this week, but he wasn’t going to miss the biggest moment of his pal’s career.
The Washington Wizards guard who has known Tiafoe since both were early in their careers was in the seats with Tiafoe’s supporters at Arthur Ashe Stadium when the No. 22 seed beat Andrey Rublev on Wednesday to become the first American man in the U.S. Open semifinals since 2006.
“I met him when I was in D.C. when I was a little kid coming up trying to make my name and the same with him,” Beal said. “He was trying to make his name, too. So I’m just happy for him.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him, honestly.”
Beal was just finishing his second season in Washington in 2014 when Tiafoe, who grew up in Maryland, made his ATP Tour debut in the city’s tournament.
Beal was at the match when Tiafoe knocked off No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal on Monday, then recounted what Tiafoe’s brother told him before he was back on the court against the ninth-seeded Rublev.
“He was sitting there after he beat Nadal, and he was kind of obviously enjoying the moment, but it’s like, believe it,” Beal said. “Believe that you belong and believe that you’ve worked so hard for this moment. This is your time, so embrace it. Embrace being on this stage, and he’s doing that.”
Beal isn’t sure if he will stick around New York because he and his wife have a newborn child back in Washington. But he will be watching.
“Like he said, he’s got two more,” Beal said. “So we’re just happy to support him in any way we can.”
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