The No. 1 seed in the Dallas Open was hoping for a conflict.
Unseeded Marcos Giron stunned Tiafoe early and rolled to a 6-1, 6-4 victory Friday night to reach the semifinals of the hardcourt event on the SMU campus for the second time in three years.
Tiafoe, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 14, expected to be in Dallas for the semifinals Saturday, when — more than 1,300 miles away — the Wizards will be handing out 10,000 Tiafoe bobbleheads for a game against Philadelphia.
Giron’s victory in the quarterfinals — his 12th win over a top 20 opponent — freed up his fellow American’s calendar. The 30-year-old still seeking his first ATP Tour title lost to Tiafoe 6-2, 6-2 at Indian Wells almost a year ago.
“I was excited to play him again,” said Giron, who won the first three points on each of Tiafoe’s first two service games on the way to a 5-0 lead. “Margins are thin. I knew that I was playing well.”
Ben Shelton rallied for a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Jordan Thompson, and the third-seeded American will face countryman Tommy Paul in the semifinals. Paul, the No. 2 seed, beat Dominik Koepfer of Germany, 7-5, 6-3.
Shelton saved three break points in the clinching game after doing the same when serving for the second set in a match that didn’t even have a break point until the 19th game.
The 21-year-old seeking his second ATP Tour victory won with a forehand that hit the baseline on his second match point.
Shelton lost in five sets to Mannarino in the third round of the Australian Open after losing to Novak Djokovic in the US Open semifinals last summer.
“I think any time you can come back and get a win after losing the first set, it’s impressive, especially against someone who serves as well as Jordan does,” Shelton said. “He presented so many problems today. I had to problem-solve the whole match.”
After a first set without a break point, the server won the first three points of the tiebreaker before Thompson’s crosscourt winner on a volley with both players at the net for a 3-1 lead.
Thompson, the No. 7 seed from Australia, went on to win six straight points for a 6-1 lead and closed out the set two points later when a shot from Shelton sailed long.
Shelton earned the first break points of the match when he got three at 3-3 in the second set. He converted the third with a forehand winner on the return of serve, then finally closed out the set on his serve when he converted a third set point after saving Thompson’s first three break points of the match.
Shelton’s best game came at 3-3 of the third set when he had three winners to break Thompson at love. The big-serving left-hander topped 140 mph several times while holding off Thompson in the deciding game.
Koepfer committed two unforced errors to help give Paul three set points in the opening set, and Paul finished it off with a deep forehand that forced Koepfer to put another one in the net.
Paul closed out the match with a forehand winner on his fifth match point.