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TENNIS

Who is Frances Tiafoe, the American player who eliminated Nadal from the US Open?

A historic win against one of the greatest players that tennis has ever seen. Who is Frances Tiafoe and what’s next for the American?

Update:
Who is Frances Tiafoe, the American player who eliminated Nadal from the US Open?
Frey/TPNGetty

With his shock victory against four-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal, the spotlight is now well and truly focused on the American.

Frances Tiafoe stuns with US Open victory against Rafael Nadal

Though many are still likely in shock, American Frances Tiafoe defeated champion Rafael Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Monday in what has to be the shock of the tournament. With the victory, Tiafoe now marches on to what will be just his second Grand Slam quarter-final. Indeed, the 24-year-old was clearly elated after his three-and-a-half-hour duel with one of the sport’s legends, which it must be said is becoming something of a habit for the young American. The win is in fact his third against Top 5 opposition.

Fans were treated to a show on the Arthur Ashe court, as Tiafoe displayed daring play on both wings while even managing to fight back from a break down in the fourth set. For the sake of context, Tiafoe is now the first American man to reach the last eight of the US Open. The last time we saw this was in 2018, but it’s worth noting that he’s the youngest to make it this far since Andy Roddick did so way back in 2006. “I’m beyond happy, almost in tears, I can’t believe it,” Tiafoe said post match. “I played unbelievable tennis today. I really don’t know what happened.”

The Details: How did the match against Nadal go?

Here’s the thing. Prior to this match, Tiafoe had never won a single set against the legendary Spaniard in a head-to-head that now stands at 1-2 in Nadal’s favor. Yet, the 49 winners which the American hit would seem to suggest that he was in no way overawed by the occasion or the opposition. Fans, will of course recall that these two met not long ago with Nadal beating the American at the Australian Open in 2019. How is revenge best served?

“At 4-3 [in the fourth set], when I went up 40/0, my legs were like cement,” Tiafoe said. “I just needed to get out of the game and then pray to God that I don’t have to serve for it. I was lucky enough to get out of that game. I came out not giving Rafa all the respect. I came out to win a tennis match in front of you guys.” Win he did. From the very first set, it was clear to see that Tiafoe had found his range from the baseline. His groundstrokes were matched only by his agility, as he displayed as he chased down each and every shot that the Spaniard offered up.

Rafa Nadal will rue this loss

With the 22nd seeded American now set to face Andrey Rublev at the Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Spaniard will be left lamenting what could have been. In pursuit of his fifth title in New York, which would have been his record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title, the 36-year-old’s No. 1 rank remains intact, but it’s most definitely within touching distance for fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz and Norway’s Casper Ruud. Though Nadal remained calm in the face of a first set defeat, it didn’t take long before the American started to utilize his heavy hitting to devastating effect.

In truth, the match was a tight affair, but the drama was clearly in the decisive fourth set, when Nadal - sitting on 3-1 saw his wings clipped. As before, Tiafoe simply stuck to his game plan and began to the process of winning five straight games to secure the historic win. The crowd present fittingly oblidged by giving him a standing ovation. Tiafoe in turn responded by roaring to them before embracing Nadal at the net. “When I first came on the scene I felt like a lot of people had a lot of expectations on me on how I would do,” Tiafoe said. “I wasn’t ready for it mentally. I wasn’t mature enough for it. These past couple of years, when the tension hasn’t been on me I have been able to develop. I have a great team behind me. I am just putting my head down and I am happy with where I am in life in general. I am able to do me and do it my way and enjoy the game I love.”

Frances Tiafoe: Remember the name

Born on January 20th in 1998 in Hyattsville, Maryland, Frances Tiafoe made his professional tennis debut in 2015. Interestingly, it was in that very same rookie year that he entered the French and US Opens in the main draw. At present he remains the only American still in the competition at Billie Jean King Tennis Center in New York. Building on that point, Tiafoe is actually one of only 12 remaining players who are seeded. With this monumental victory, the American has taken a significant step toward securing a spot in the top 15 of the world rankings. We’re betting on the idea that he will do just that.

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