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Tiafoe: American Success Inspires

Frances Tiafoe of the US reached the Miami Open fourth round for the fourth consecutive appearance. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

The Sunshine Double is popping with a red, white and blue hue.

Twelve American men currently reside in the ATP Top 100.

American No. 1 Taylor Fritz snapped Rafael Nadal’s 20-match win streak to become the first American man since Andre Agassi in 2001 to win Indian Wells.

Seeing the success of compatriots compelled a simple response in Frances Tiafoe: If they can do it, why can’t I do it too?

Tiafoe, who swept Argentinian Juan Manuel Cerundolo to reach the Miami Open fourth round for the fourth consecutive appearance, said seeing Fritz, Dallas champion Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul and Sebastia Korda positing positive results is major motivation.

“I think seeing guys that you grew up with doing well, you’re like, Well, f–k, this guy can do it,” Tiafoe told the media in Miami. “Sh-t, I grew up with him. I’ve beaten him how many times. Why not?”

Another encouraging element for Tiafoe is the absence of Big 3 champion roadblocks in Miami.

“We [Americans] genuinely want to see each other do well. It’s good,” Tiafoe said. “And then also finally there is a little opening in tennis. The big guys don’t play every Masters, for example, this one. Big guys, you know what I mean, the big three.

“So there is a little space for guys. I mean, there was a while there where you go deep in an event, and you run into Rafa and them, I was, like, Yeah, I’m probably going home.

“But now guys can win it.”

The 24-year-old Tiafoe has risen to No. 29 in the live rankings matching his career-high ranking.

Tiafoe will face either 22nd-seeded Gael Monfils or Francisco Cerundolo, the 23-year-old brother of 20-year-old Juan Manuel Cerundolo for a quarterfinal spot.

“I genuinely hope [Monfils] wins. We are such good friends,” Tiafoe said. “I love seeing him play well and do well.

“He beat me last time, round of 16 in Toronto. I’ve got to owe him one back, for sure. It will be good. Crowd will get into it. It’s definitely a popcorn match, for sure.”