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The Guardian:Follow View Profile Frances Tiafoe shocks Rafael Nadal in US Open fourth-round thriller


Frances Tiafoe took an enormous step towards fulfilling his great potential as he pulled off by far the biggest win of his career, upsetting the second seed Rafael Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the US Open quarter-finals for the first time in his career.

Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA© Provided by The Guardian

In front of a rowdy home crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 22nd seed became the first man to beat Nadal on court in a grand slam this year. It also marks the first time since Wimbledon 2017 that Nadal has lost before the quarter-final of a grand slam.

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“I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m beyond happy, I’m almost in tears,” said Tiafoe afterwards. “I can’t believe it. He’s definitely one of the greatest of all time. I played unbelievable tennis today. I don’t know what happened.”

In his third straight fourth round appearance at the US Open, and having reached the fourth round of Wimbledon earlier this summer, Tiafoe arrived inside the biggest tennis stadium in the world full of confidence in his ability to pull off a big win.

He started as such, serving brilliantly while playing nerveless attacking tennis along with all of his flair. Even after Nadal levelled the match at one set all and then looked to pounce as Tiafoe showed nerves late in the third set, Nadal kept on pressuring him. He refused to falter.

Tiafoe served two audacious down-the-line forehand winners followed by an unreturned serve. After trailing 3-1 in the fourth set, Tiafoe rolled through five games in a row, slamming down an ace after a tense, tight service game for 4-3 and then playing the return game of his life to snatch the win without hesitation.

“My legs were like cement,” said Tiafoe. “I was like, ‘Just get out of the game, get out of the game,’ and I did.” He will face Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals.



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