US Open: Rafael Nadal stunned by Frances Tiafoe in fourth round 2022

Rafael Nadal suffered his first Grand Slam defeat in 2022, losing to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round of the US Open.

American Tiafoe thrilled the home crowd by beating four-time champion Nadal 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-3 in New York.

The defeat ended the Spaniard’s bid for a record-extending 23rd major singles title.

Nadal led 3-1 in the fourth set before Tiafoe hit back, winning five games in a row to book his place in the quarter-finals.

He will face ninth seed Andrei Rublev of Russia for a place in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.

The 22nd-ranked Tiafoe threw his racket to the floor and covered his face in disbelief as Nadal’s backhand netted his victory.

He covered his face with his towel after thanking the crowd, taking in the atmosphere at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Something special happened today,” the 24-year-old said in court.

“I don’t know what to say, I’m so happy. He’s one of the greatest players of all time and I played unbelievably.”

Nadal has never looked settled in New York this year but that’s not to take anything away from Tiafoe, who played a smart match.

Nadal’s defeat and 2014 champion Marin Cilic’s five-set loss to Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz mean Sunday’s final will feature a first-time Grand Slam winner.

Alcaraz, 19, won 6-4 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-3 in three hours and 53 minutes. Flushing Meadows.

He will face Italian 11th seed Jannik Sner, who needed five sets to beat unseeded Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-1 5-7 6-2 4-6 6-3.

Nadal undone by entertaining Tiafoe

Nadal went into the match with a 22-0 record at Grand Slams this year, having won the Australian Open and French Open titles before withdrawing from Wimbledon after a quarterfinal win with an abdominal injury.

The injury curtailed his build-up to the US Open when Nadal arrived at Flushing Meadows, playing only once after losing to Borna Coric in Cincinnati.

He has struggled for fluency in New York, particularly in his second-round match against Fabio Fognini, and showed similar nerves on serve against Tiafoe.

After changing his ball toss to avoid an injury that could end his Wimbledon campaign, Nadal appeared to lack pace and confidence on his serve and was broken at 3-3 by Tiafoe in the opener.

After losing the first set, Nadal disappeared from the court for eight minutes with a physiotherapist and appeared to have his wrists strapped.

Although his serve never clicked – he finished nine aces with nine double faults – he was able to take advantage of a poor Tiafoe service game at 5-4 in the second, gifted by a Tiafoe double fault. given.

The third set mirrored the first, with Tiafoe leading 4-3 with a fine backhand winner, and the American delighted his home crowd when he finished it off with an ace.

Nadal looked dynamic again in the fourth set and helped distract Tiafoe as he closed the roof down 2-1 during his service game.

Nadal broke serve but Tiafoe, who helped Nadal’s two double faults, responded immediately and did some excellent counter-punching to break twice more en route to victory.

Despite the defeat, Nadal can still remain at the top of the men’s rankings after the tournament after defeating defending champion Daniil Medvedev to Kyrgios on Sunday.

Spain’s Alcaraz and Norway’s Casper Rudd will have to reach the final to at least have a chance of becoming world number one.

Tiafoe benefits from a mature outlook

Tiafoe has suffered some tough losses in recent weeks, losing strong positions against Taylor Fritz and Nick Kyrgios, but he showed no signs of nerves against Nadal.

He has previously spoken about the difficulties he and his family overcame together and his more unusual path in tennis.

His father worked on the construction crew developing the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in Washington. With his mother working night shifts as a nurse, Tiafoe and his brother often stayed at JTCC for long periods of time and then honed their tennis skills on the courts there.

He previously reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in 2019 but the win against Nadal is the biggest win of his career so far.

“Honestly, when I first came on the scene, I wasn’t mentally ready for it and I wasn’t mature enough,” he told the court.

“I have been able to develop and have a great team around me.

“I’m happy that I won in front of my mom, my dad, my girlfriend, and my team and for them to see what I did.”

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