Rafael Nadal eliminated by Frances Tiafoe in the round of 16 at the US Open

Rafael Nadal eliminated by Frances Tiafoe in the round of 16 at the US Open

Rafael Nadal was aiming for a tenth quarter-final at the US Open, he will have to wait at least one more year since Frances Tiafoe challenged his courtesy in qualifying (6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3). him, for the first time at this level of competition at the New York Grand Slam. And honestly, the qualification of the American does not suffer from any dispute since he knew how to raise his level at altitudes that we had never seen him frequent with such rigor. Just like Nick Kyrgios has been offering lately, Tiafoe showed a focused face throughout the match, not trying to do too much or amuse the crowd. She had a plan, to attack Nadal as much as possible, and she did what was necessary to carry it out to the letter.

On the other side of the net, Nadal was visibly short of juice. But his defeat does not come from there. Not only. In fact, it was Tiafoe who beat him. The Spaniard also showed a very focused face from the first exchanges. Evidently, he had decided to attack standing on the ground, wanting to deal damage first. Unfortunately for him, his ball was weightless. And despite an anemic first serve percentage on Tiafoe (44% in the first set), Nadal was unable to win on the return.

Rather, he was often the one under pressure, forced to step back right after his support resumed. And the first break point of the match went in favor of Tiafoe. Excellent on the return, he pushed Nadal to the foul and broke away to lead 4-3. Nadal tried to break with all his might from him, but Tiafoe held on and kept his lead until the end of the set.

Nadal snatches the second set, but lacks legs in the third

The second set looked exactly like the first. Nadal was unable to shake Tiafoe, while he himself took a few missiles to the face. But the Spaniard will have had the merit of holding on, as always. And in the tenth game of the set, he finally managed to break Tiafoe’s serve, on a double fault from the latter. Were we going to witness this scenario known by heart of a pushed Nadal but who manages to turn the game in his favor by dint of self-sacrifice? Not this time.

First because Nadal seemed less fit in this third set. And, above all, because Tiafoe managed to raise his level even more while Nadal’s stagnated dangerously. A long backhand line gave Tiafoe the break (4-3). With his back to the wall, Nadal tried to put pressure on his opponent, but he did not have the means. After a double fault out of fear, Tiafoe landed two forehands and an ace to lead two sets to one.

Tiafoe is gaining momentum, Nadal stays put

Nadal might have believed in a scenario close to the one that saw him defeat Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final when he broke, well aided by a Tiafoe finding a volley within reach. Unsettled by the closing of the roof during the game, Tiafoe seemed to be about to leave the match when Nadal began to exult and seek the support of the public. Leading 3-1, Tiafoe didn’t go out of his way and picked up the pace, perfectly countering Nadal’s delay.

Increasingly efficient on the return, shooting aces (18) at the right times, Tiafoe was the master of the court. Nadal could not train him in his sector and suffered his wrath. After a superb payback, the American scored two break points that looked like match points. Nadal fired the first with a service winner, but in the second, his backhand died in the net. Tiafoe was back in front (4-3) and was not going to stop along the way. It was in a final break (the third of the set) that he won and was finally able to let go of his emotions. Now Andrey Rublev is waiting for him.

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This is Rafael Nadal’s first Grand Slam loss this season. The Spaniard, winner of the Australian Open and Roland-Garros, withdrew ahead of his Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

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