"Guys are trying hard because there's no Roger, Rafa" - Tiafoe believes players are motivated due to the pair's absence
The 2021 US Open has seen a surplus of five-set matches, with 33 of them already reaching five sets. This is the most at a hardcourt Grand Slam since 2004, when 34 of them went the distance, and Frances Tiafoe believes the absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal has something to do with it.
With both men pulling out of the last Grand Slam of the year due to injury, Novak Djokovic is the only member of the "Big Three" competing at Flushing Meadows. American Frances Tiafoe believes that most players have seen the absence of Federer and Nadal as an opportunity to go deep in the tournament, hence the increased number of five set matches this year.
"I definitely think guys are trying extra hard, because there is no Roger, Rafa," the 23-year-old told reporters after his fourth round loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday. "I see guys foaming in the mouth, pretty funny to watch, I'm in the locker room cracking up."
The World No.50 went on to say that most players would not put in as much effort in winning a match were they drawn against Federer or Nadal in the next round, knowing that their chances of progressing were slim to none.
"You have Andreas Seppi, like 37, playing 15-13 in the fifth set tiebreaker. What's that about? Crazy," added Tiafoe. "His 19th U.S. Open, he's putting his heart on the line. He's probably not doing that if he plays Rafa the second round, probably, like, 'I'm done'. It's unreal."