US Open: Brilliant Frances Tiafoe sends Rafael Nadal crashing
Frances Tiafoe of the United States produced the performance of a lifetime to send Rafael Nadal crashing out of the US Open in a stunning fourth-round upset on Monday. Tiafoe, who had only reached one major championship quarter-final in his career before, dashed Nadal’s hopes of adding to his record collection of 22 Grand Slam singles titles with a 6-4 victory , 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 .
A packed crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium roared with delight as the 22nd seed, 24, bombarded Nadal with 18 aces and 49 winners to seal the win in 3:34.
The win sends Tiafoe into a last eight showdown against Russian ninth seed Andrey Rublev on Wednesday.
“I don’t even know what to say right now,” Tiafoe said after her stunning win. “I’m beyond happy, I’m almost in tears. I can’t believe it.
“He’s definitely one of the greatest of all time. I played amazing tennis today, but yeah, I really don’t know what happened.”
Tiafoe, the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone who started playing tennis at age four when his father worked as a home caretaker at a tennis facility in Maryland, had never gone further than the fourth round of the US Open in seven previous appearances.
“When I came on the scene, a lot of people expected me to do and stuff, but I wasn’t ready for that. Mentally, I wasn’t mature enough for those times,” said said Tiafoe.
“But the last two years I’ve been able to put my head down and develop.”
Nadal paid tribute to Tiafoe’s performance and admitted he struggled to cope with the American’s tactic of moving him around the pitch.
– ‘I had a bad game’ –
“I had a bad game and he had a good game. In the end, that’s it, isn’t it?” Nadal said.
“Tennis is often a positional sport, right? Otherwise you have to be very, very quick and very young. I’m not at that point anymore,” the 36-year-old said.
In the previous two matches against Nadal, Tiafoe had never taken a single set from the Spanish legend.
However, he set the tone for a magical performance early in Monday’s game, grabbing the first with a break of serve to go up 4-3 in the first before taking the set.
Nadal came back level in the second set as Tiafoe nervously double faulted on set point.
But the American regrouped superbly in the third, sending Nadal across the baseline several times with a few precise groundstrokes into the corners.
He broke for a 4-3 lead once more, then held 5-3. After Nadal held to close the gap, Tiafoe served for the set and clinched a 2-1 lead with an ace after a masterful forehand down the line brought him to match point.
The turning point in a crucial fourth set came shortly after Nadal took a 3-1 lead, roaring with joy after smashing Tiafoe and seemingly ready to force a fifth set.
Tiafoe pulled back to cut the deficit though, cleverly moving Nadal out of position before hammering a forehand into the corner to make it 3-2.
Nadal almost fired back immediately in the next game, however getting two break points at 15-40.
But Tiafoe responded beautifully with four straight save points with an ace to tie the set at 3-3.
From there, Tiafoe’s momentum proved unstoppable and he broke again for a 4-3, then held serve after delivering his 18th ace of the match for 5-3, before scoring another break for victory.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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