A sensational undertaking. Qualified for the first time in her professional career to the US Open quarter-finals, Frances Tiafoe beat Rafael Nadal in four sets and 3:34 of a Dante match (6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6- 3). At his rendezvous with an Arthur-Ashe audience ready to encourage him to achieve the impossible, Tiafoe achieved what no one had done so far in 2022: beating Rafael Nadal in a Grand Slam tournament. In the next round, Tiafoe will face Russian Andrey Rublev.
Tiafoe: “Something I can tell my children and grandchildren”
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This is a performance that few people could expect. Seeded number twenty-two in the tournament, Tiafoe hadn’t lost a single set since the start of the fortnight at Flushing Meadows. Yes, but here it is: in two fights against Nadal, the American had not won a single set. And despite some difficulty getting into shape at the start of each match in the first three rounds, Nadal was a legitimate favorite. But as a good outsider, Tiafoe bravely played his luck by grabbing Nadal by the throat early in the match. At 3-3, Tiafoe scored the first break point of the match before converting it. Behind, the service quality of the Hyattsville native did the rest, winning the group in 54 minutes (6-4).
Tiafoe “in the zone”: the American imposes his game and wins the first set against Nadal
On his way, Tiafoe continued to play Nadal and started warming up the Majorcan. Without suffering any break points until the next 5-4 serve, Tiafoe kept up. But in a particularly stressful moment, he left the Spaniard a small loophole that could be exploited at 15-40. Blessed bread for Nadal, who sticks to a round anywhere after 1h46 of play (4-6). From that point on, the Manacor Bull seemed physically stronger in the exchange. But once again, Tiafoe just needed a break point at 3-3 to take the lead and opportunistically pocket the third set (6-4). Mentally touched, Nadal reacted with a break to take the lead 3-1 … but Tiafoe broke again on his first chance.
Two perfect forehand, one ace: Tiafoe’s three points of madness for the 3rd set
100% success on three break points, this logically undermined Nadal’s morale and the world number three took the hit. Result of the races: Tiafoe won all subsequent games, ending with a last stratospheric match on the serve of Nadal, baffled (6-3). Nadal had not lost in the last 16 of the Grand Slam since the defeat against Lucas Pouille in 2016. What to measure the extent of Tiafoe’s exploit, but perhaps also the physical limits of the Spaniard after this successful year. For his part, Tiafoe continues on his way and makes America dream.
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