NEW YORK. Frances Tiafoe’s eyes dimmed with tears. He was thrilled – stunned even – when the last point was over and it dawned on him that yes, he had snapped Rafael Nadal’s 22-match Grand Slam winning streak to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open for the first time.
âIt felt like the world had stopped,â Tiafoe said. “I didn’t hear anything for a minute.”
Tiafoe then found himself “losing his temper in the locker room” when he saw NBA superstar LeBron James tweet him.
“Bro,” Tiafoe said, “I’m going crazy.”
What meant the most to Tiafoe in his 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over 22-time world champion Nadal in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows was that he looked away at Arthur Ashe Stadium. box and knowing that his parents, Constant and Alfina, were there.
âTo see them test my victory over Rafa Nadal â they saw me win big, but to beat these Mount Rushmore guys? For them, I can’t imagine what was going on in their heads,â said Tiafoe, a 24-year-old American who finished 22nd at the US Open. âI mean, they will remember today for the rest of their lives.â
His parents emigrated to the United States from Sierra Leone in West Africa during the civil war of the 1990s. They ended up in Maryland, where Constant helped build a junior tennis training center and later became a technician there; Alfina, according to Frances, was “a nurse, worked two jobs, worked overtime at night.” Francis and his twin brother Franklin were born in 1998, and soon they were to spend hours after hours at their father’s job with rackets in their hands.
Maybe one day, the dream went, a college scholarship would come out of it.
âNothing like this should have happened,â Tiafoe said in the evening, hours after his biggest victory ever.
He is the youngest American to reach this far at the US Open since Andy Roddick in 2006, but this isn’t the case with a one-sided crowd backing one of their own. Nadal is as popular as it gets in tennis and heard a lot of support as the volume turned up after the retractable roof was closed in the fourth set.
âThis is what you need to say to children, grandchildren: âYes, I beat Rafa,â Tiafoe said with a wide smile.
He served better than Nadal, who finished second. More surprisingly, he’s back and better. And he kept his cool, stayed in the moment and never let the bets or the opponent get to him. Nadal, a 36-year-old from Spain, has won both previous matches and every set they have played.
âWell, the difference is simple: I played a bad match and he played a good one,â Nadal said. “In the end, that’s all.”
The surprise came the day after Tiafoe followed on TV as his buddy Nick Kyrgios “put on a show” and eliminated No. 1 seed and defending champion Daniil Medvedev. Thus, this is the first US Open in which neither of the top two seeds has reached the quarterfinals since 2000, when No. 1 Andre Agassi was eliminated in the second round and No. 2 Gustavo Kuerten in the first.
This was before Nadal, Novak Djokovic, who has 21 Grand Slam titles, and Roger Federer, who has 20, came to dominate men’s tennis. Djokovic, 35, did not compete in this US Open because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19 and was not allowed to enter the United States; Federer, 41, underwent a series of surgeries on his right knee and last played at Wimbledon last year.
The inevitable questions now arise as to whether their era of dominance is coming to an end.
âThat means the years go by,â Nadal said. “This is the circle of life.”
Tiafoe is now facing No. 9 Andrei Rublev, who previously beat No. 7 Cam Norrie 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Carlos Alcaraz beat No. 15 seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted 3 hours 54 minutes and ended at 2:23.
Yannick Sinner, who took 11th place, rose after two games and beat Ilya Ivashka in the fifth set with a score of 6:1, 5:7, 6:2, 4:6, 6:3.
The No. 1 woman, Iga Swiatek, advanced to her first quarter-final at Flushing Meadows, coming back to defeat Jule Neuemeyer 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.
âI’m just proud,â Swiatek said, âthat I didn’t lose hope.â
The 21-year-old from Poland will face another US Open quarter-finalist: No. 8 Jessica Pegula, the highest-ranked American who took the lead with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over two-time Wimbledon winner Petra. Kvitova.
Another women’s quarterfinal will be two-time Major finalist Karolina Pliskova against No. 6 Arina Sobolenko.
Nadal won the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June. He then reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in July before dropping out of that tournament with a torn abdominal muscle.
Nadal only competed once in the month and a half between leaving the All England Club and arriving in New York where he won four trophies.
He modified his serve motion by tossing the ball lower than usual so as not to put so much strain on his stomach. There were many signs that his serve was not in the best shape: nine double faults, a first serve percentage hovering around 50%, five Tiafoe breaks.
Earlier in the tournament, he had lost the first set of his first round match. Did the same in the second round when he also accidentally cut the bridge of his nose and caused dizziness when the edge of his racket bounced off the court and hit him in the face.
Nadal was on the brink of turning the tide when he broke down early in the fourth set to go 3-1 up.
Tiafoe said to himself, âStay in it. Stay with him.
This is due to two key areas that Tiafoe says has helped him become a stronger player in recent times: improved match thinking and commitment to fitness.
âRafa is in his place. I’ve been known to occasionally have glitches in the game when you look (and think) “What is this?!” Thiafo said. “That was my thing – the intensity of the match.”
Now there is nothing to worry about: he has won the last five games. The penultimate break came at 4-3 in the fourth set when Nadal hit a backhand into the net and Tiafoe bounced back to the touchline for the next change with a raised fist.
Fifteen minutes later, Tiafoe broke down again and it was all over. This represents the latest significant step forward for Tiafoe, whose only previous trip to a Grand Slam quarter-final came at the 2019 Australian Open and ended in a loss to Nadal.
As Nadal’s last backhand hit the net, Tiafoe dropped his racquet and put his hands on his head. He glanced at the standsâmum, dad, brother, girlfriend, Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal, and othersâthen sat down in a chair on the side and buried his face in a towel.
âIt was just wild. My heart is beating at a thousand miles an hour. I was so excited. I’m like, “Let me sit down,” Tiafoe said. “Yeah, I’ve never felt anything like this in my life, honestly.”
Carlos Alcaraz produces goods not only for himself, but also for his country.
Seven days after winning their first Grand Slam tournament, No. 1 Alcaraz defeated Kwon Soon-woo in straight sets in the Davis Cup Final to secure Spain’s victory over South Korea and advance to the quarter-finals as Group B winners.
The US Open champion clenched his fists beside him and yelled in celebration after Kwon landed a long right hand to give the Spanish teenager a 6-4, 7-6(1) win in front of a passionate home crowd in Valencia.
It was Alcaraz’s first win since defeating Casper Ruud in the US Open final and also became the youngest person to top the computerized ATP rankings since its inception in 1973.
âTo play here in the Davis Cup is a great honor for me,â said Alcaraz. âBut it’s even better to come here as world No. 1 and US Open champion to share this moment with all my people, my family, my friends.
“I’m really happy to live this moment right now and share it with everyone.”
Alcaraz missed Spain’s first 3â0 win over Serbia and lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in a 2â1 win against Canada.
But the 19-year-old Alcaraz returned to his best, throwing some shots that got the crowd on their feet. Kwon was also a passionate tennis player, and their coaches creaked on the hard court as both ran frantically in long rallies, hitting shots that at times seemed unplayable.
Roberto Bautista Agut got off to a great start in Spain defeating Hong Sung Chan 6:1, 6:3. Marcel Granollers and Pedro Martinez beat Nam Ji Sung and Song Min Kyu 7:5, 3:6, 6:1 in doubles category and won against Spain with a score of 3: 0.
The result takes Spain into the final eight in November, where they will face second-placed Croatia in Group A. It will also be the home ground for Spain, as the quarter-finals in the same venue will be played in the southern city of MÃ¡laga in November.
Three other stadiums – Bologna in Italy, Hamburg, Germany and Glasgow, Scotland – hosted group stage matches.
Italy were already guaranteed a spot in the quarter-finals, but finished top of Group A by beating Sweden 2-1 to face the United States, who were runners-up in Group D.
Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli won the decisive doubles by beating AndrÃ© Goransson and Dragos Nicolae Madaras 7:6 (2), 6:2.
Sweden needed a 3-0 win over Italy to progress and hopes were dashed when Matteo Berrettini scored a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Elias Ymer, whose younger brother Mikael Ymer then beat Jannik Sinner by 6 :four. , 3-6, 6-3.
In Germany, Kevin Kravitz and Tim Putz edged out Max Purcell and Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4 to give the Germans a 2-1 victory over Australia and top spot in Group C.
Both were already guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals before the start of the game day. Jan-Lennard Struff beat Purcell 6-1, 7-5, his third straight win this week before Thanasi Kokkinakis equaled Australia by beating Oscar Otte 7-6(6), 6-1.
Germany will play Canada in the quarter-finals, while Australia will play the Netherlands.
The Netherlands won Group D, moving ahead with the USA. This meant that the UK or…