Tiafoe ends Nadal’s 22-match Slam streak in US Open 4th Rd


NEW YORK – Frances Tiafoe ended Rafael Nadal’s 22-match successful streak at Grand Slam tournaments by beating the 22-time main champion 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the U.S. Open’s fourth spherical on Monday.

Tiafoe is a 24-year-old from Maryland who’s seeded twenty second at Flushing Meadows and reached the second main quarterfinal of his profession.

He is the youngest American man to get that far on the U.S. Open since Andy Roddick in 2006, however this was not a case of a one-sided crowd backing one in every of its personal. Nadal is about as well-liked because it will get in tennis and heard loads of help in Arthur Ashe Stadium as the amount raised after the retractable roof was shut in the fourth set.

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“I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m beyond happy. I can’t believe it,” stated Tiafoe, who faces No. 9 seed Andrey Rublev subsequent. “He’s one of the greatest of all time. I played unbelievable tennis today, but I don’t even know what happened.”

Here’s what occurred: Tiafoe served higher than No. 2 seed Nadal. More surprisingly, he returned higher, too. And he saved his cool, remained in the second and by no means let the stakes or the opponent get to him. Nadal had received each of their earlier matches, and each set they performed, too.

“Well done for him,” Nadal stated. “He was better than me.”

This shock got here a day after one in every of Tiafoe’s friends, Nick Kyrgios, eradicated No. 1 seed and defending champion Daniil Medvedev.

Nadal received the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June. Then he made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon in July earlier than withdrawing from that event due to a torn stomach muscle; that doesn’t go into the books as a loss, as a result of he pulled out earlier than the match.

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The 36-year-old from Spain competed solely as soon as in the 1 1/2 months between leaving the All England Club and arriving in New York whereas recovering from that damage. His play has not been as much as his traditional requirements on the U.S. Open, which he has received 4 instances.

Nadal tweaked his service movement, tossing the ball decrease than he usually does in order to not put as a lot pressure on his midsection whereas reaching along with his racket. There had been loads of indicators Monday that his serve is simply not in tip-top form: 9 double-faults, a first-serve share hovering round 50%, 5 breaks by Tiafoe.

There had been indicators of hassle for Nadal earlier in the event. He misplaced the primary set of his first-round match. Did the identical in the second spherical, when he additionally by chance reduce the bridge of his nostril and made himself dizzy when the sting of his racket body bounced off the court docket and caught him in the face on a backhand follow-through.

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In the fourth spherical Monday, the next-to-last break got here for a 4-3 edge in the fourth set, when Nadal put a backhand into the web, and Tiafoe skipped backward towards the sideline for the following changeover, his fist raised. Fifteen minutes later, Tiafoe broke once more, and it was over.

When one final backhand by Nadal discovered the web, Tiafoe put his arms on his head. When he sat in his sideline chair, he buried his face in a towel.

“When I first came on the scene, a lot of people had limitations on what I would do. … I wasn’t ‘ready for it mentally.’ I wasn’t ‘mature,’” Tiafoe stated. But nowadays, he added, “I’m able to just do me and do it my way and enjoy the game I love.”

This represents the most recent important step ahead for Tiafoe, whose solely earlier journey to a Grand Slam quarterfinal got here on the 2019 Autralian Open — and ended with a loss to Nadal.

Tiafoe thanked a protracted checklist of oldsters who had been in the stands, together with his dad and mom — they emigrated from Sierra Leone in West Africa and Dad labored as a upkeep man at a tennis facility close to the U.S. capital — his girlfriend and Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal.

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“To have them see what I did today means more than anything,” Tiafoe stated. “Today’s an unbelievable day and I’m going to soak this one in, for sure.”

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More AP protection of U.S. Open tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/us-open-tennis-championships and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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