Tokyo | Tiafoe and Fritz in All-American final

For the first time in 26 years, an American will be lifting the Tokyo trophy after both Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz successfully negotiated their way into the Rakuten Japan Open final.

It’s not always going to be pretty, it’s not always going to be the best stuff, but a win is what matters Frances Tiafoe

And whoever wins between the pair he will become the first US player to take the title since Pete Sampras in 1996, who defeated Richey Reneberg in another All-American clash.

Tiafoe battled past unseeded Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea but admitted it had been a scrappy affair.

The fourth-seeded Tiafoe won 6-2 0-6 6-4 while his compatriot, Fritz, outlasted Canada’s Denis Shapovalov 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3.

Commenting on his win, Tiafoe, the world number 19, said that “it was a weird match, but I’m happy to get through.”

The 24-year-old, whose only previous ATP title came at Delray Beach in 2018, added: “I wasn’t expecting him (Kwon) to play like that.

“He played really fast and really aggressive. He was playing really well, obviously, but a win’s a win, and you take it.

“It’s not always going to be pretty, it’s not always going to be the best stuff, but a win is what matters.”

Third-seeded Fritz also had to fight for his final spot and required two-hours and 14-minutes to eventually dispatch his Canadian opponent.

Commenting on the prosect of facing Fritz, Tiafoe said “playing Taylor would be great”, adding that the pair were “very good friends”.

He said their bond had become tighter at the Laver Cup in London, where both were members of Team World which beat Team Europe for the first time in the competition’s history.

“I love that guy,” Tiafoe said. “He’s a great competitor, he serves well, he has a huge forehand, and he’s confident and getting better too… may the best man win.”

It will be the first time two Americans feture in an ATP 500 final since Memphis 2010, and it should be a great battle between two colleagues.

Taylor Fritz battled past Denis Shapovalov

Koji Watanabe/Getty Images



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