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Fritz, Tiafoe, Shelton make it three American men in U.S. Open quarterfinals for first time since 2005

Heading into Sunday’s schedule of play, there was guaranteed to be at least one American man in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

By the end of the night, the host nation multiplied that by three.

For the first time since 2005 (Andre Agassi, James Blake, and Robby Ginepri), three American men are in the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows. Leading the next generation–what the USTA can only hope becomes a great generation–this fortnight are Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, and Ben Shelton.

Shelton was the first to book his quarterfinal spot on Sunday afternoon, as he won an all-American affair with Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The former University of Florida standout cracked two 149 MPH aces on his way to victory, avenging his Australian Open quarterfinal loss to Paul.

“I think straight adrenaline,” Shelton said. “I think any other atmosphere I wouldn’t be able to get it down and I think my arm might have come off. But it is feeling pretty good right now.”

American men’s tennis as a whole has to be feeling great right now, as Shelton is joined in the last eight in NYC by Fritz and Tiafoe. Both Fritz and Tiafoe won their fourth-round matchups in straight sets, Fritz over Dominic Stricker and Tiafoe at the expense of Rinky Hijikata.

“I think it’s a really cool opportunity for American tennis,” Shelton said. “This is what you guys always talk to us about: ‘who’s going to be the next Grand Slam champion? Who’s going to do it?’ I always have the same reply: American tennis is going in a great direction and I don’t know who’s going to be the next to get a slam, be the next Andy Roddick, but I know we’re all on our own path and we’re all doing things our own way and improving year to year. I can see it in these guys–hopefully see the same kind of trend with myself.”

There is still a long way to go before one of the three can win this title, but at least one will be in the semis. That’s because Shelton and Tiafoe will square off in the quarters on Tuesday.

“I called it like two rounds ago,” Fritz commented. “I said, ‘Hey, there’s definitely going to be an American in the semifinals on that side.’”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.