Tiafoe could hardly contain his excitement.
Tiafoe could hardly contain his excitement.

‘I work my a--- off’: Birthday boy pulls off upset

Birthday boy Frances Tiafoe celebrated his 21st in style, securing a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal berth after a marathon arm-wrestle with 20th seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Tiafoe broke down in tears as he was interviewed on court post-match, speaking of the disbelief he felt over his rapid rise past two years after the 7-5 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (1-7) 7-5 triumph.

"It means the world. I work my a--- off, man," Tiafoe said.


Frances Tiafoe kisses the court after his big win. Picture: Getty
Frances Tiafoe kisses the court after his big win. Picture: Getty


"I told my parents 10 years ago I was going to be a pro, I was going to do this. I was going to change their life, I was going to change my life.

"I can't believe it."

The American, ranked No.39 in the world, refused to take a backwards step against Dimitrov from the opening set and was not afraid to get on the attack and up to the net.

He had his chances to close out the match earlier but produced a poor third-set tie-breaker before pushing on to take the fourth set and the match in 3hr 39min.

Tiafoe and Dimitrov had previously met only once at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Canada last year, the Bulgarian taking that match in three sets.

However, Tiafoe was not going to let that happen again, especially on his birthday.

"I told him next time we're gonna play, I was going to win," Tiafoe said.

"I would have been made as hell if I lost on my birthday."

The victory guarantees Tiafoe a minimum $460,000 prize packet from the Australian Open, a birthday bonus of $200,000 on what he would have received for a fourth-round exit.

Dimitrov was the latest seeded scalp for Tiafoe this tournament, having knocked off fifth-seed Kevin Anderson in his second-round match.