NEW YORK – With intense tennis, great energy and practically no cracks, American Frances Tiafo on Monday defeated Spanish Rafael Nadal, who crashed out of the United States Open in the round of 16 after falling 6-4, 4 – 6, 6-4 and 6-3 in three hours 34 minutes.
Nadal got used to a comeback in this tournament, but this time the epic didn’t work out in a close match, with few options to break the serve and in which his opponents were quick at crucial moments.
At 24 and ranked 26th in the world, Tiafo will face Russian Andrey Rublev, who is ranked 11th in the ATP and who beat British Cameron Norey in a triple 6-4 in two hours and 26 minutes. .
In the hypothetical horizon of the semi-finals, Tiafo, son of Sierra Leone immigrants to the US and this year’s finalist in Estoril, could cross paths with Spanish Carlos Alcaraz.
The elimination of Daniil Medvedev (world number one) and Nadal (second) opens up the possibility for Alcaraz (fourth) to lead the ATP, but for this he should be declared champion of the US Open.
Tiafo doesn’t shy away from meeting the four-time champ on center court at Flushing Meadows.
In a duel marked by heat and humidity (both players were sweating profusely from the first point), Tiafo started bravely with his forehand and made sure to stay on serve despite having trouble hitting his first serve.
Nor did he cut off going to the net, but Nadal easily stopped him there with a loud play from the back of the court.
Keeping the set tied at 3-3, Nadal made several consecutive mistakes and opened the door for Tiafo’s break.
The American grabbed that lead, captured it calmly from serve and closed the first set after 54 minutes with a volley.
Nadal retired in an awkwardly long break before the start of the second set, which lasted about 10 minutes, without the chair umpire giving the reason and which, according to ESPN, was due to problems with his wrist.
The script of the match remained unchanged with Services dominating the game and there was no option but to break.
Tiaffo continued to play with astonishing ease and overwhelming confidence, which kept mistakes to a minimum against an equally solid Nadal.
With the forces perfectly balanced, the crucial moment for Nadal with a 4-5 came when Tiafo, at one point he had controlled, bounced a ball thinking it was going out but that ball was a hair. was going from
On that miscalculation, Nadal scored his first two break deliveries throughout the afternoon (after an hour and 45 minutes of play) and eventually won the second set due to a double mistake by Tiafo.
It looked like the duel would be decided by minor details as both players resolved their turn to serve with authority.
In the middle of the third set, Tiafo had his second break ball in the entire game and didn’t waste it: he sent a backhand parallel to the line and held 4-3.
By then the New York public was already in his pocket, he felt the energy of the moment was on his side and he knew it was now or never.
When it was his turn to serve to win the third set (5-4), Tiafo hesitated a bit with a double fault.
But he responded admirably to that tense moment and ended the set after 47 minutes with two aces and a brilliant forehand run.
Forced to take epic recourse once again, Nadal rocked the match and tried to regain some of the lost grit and spark.
He started the routine with a 0-30 in the fourth set, but he pulled a brilliant counterfoot forehand off his hat, launched his first great cry of the day into the New York sky and envisioned five for encouragement and strength from the public. Said to- set return.
The fourth round had nothing to do with the previous round and there was a service break.
The first to hesitate was Tiafo, who was frustrated by the noise of the roof when it was closed due to rain and who missed a song shot until the break (1-3).
However, Nadal was unable to consolidate that advantage and also lost serve in the next game (2–3).
The match was already far from safety in the serve of the previous sets, with Nadal again giving his serve (4–3) and there he placed Tiaffo straight to prove it with a new break, which was the highest of his career so far. The most important victory. ,