(September 5, 2022) No. 22 seed Frances Tiafoe of Hyattsville, MD, has upset No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open on Monday in three hours and 31 minutes in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The American beat the Spanish 22-time major champion in Ashe Stadium 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
It’s the first time that Tiafoe has ever beaten Nadal, in fact it’s the first time he’s ever won sets off of him. Tiafoe will face Andrey Rublev for a spot in the semifinals on Wednesday.
“That win here obviously is insane.” said the American. “Like, Labor Day Monday was packed. It was totally packed. The crowd was insane. I wouldn’t probably want to beat Rafa anywhere else. Maybe Centre Court Wimbledon. I’ve never played on Centre Court Wimbledon. Those two are the two pinnacles of tennis, these two slams.”
Tiafoe is the youngest American man at 24, to reach the US Open quarterfinals since Andy Roddick, 24, did it in 2006. It’s Taifoe’s second career final eight of his career, he also did it at the Australian Open in 2019.
“I’m beyond happy, almost in tears, I can’t believe it,” said Tiafoe in his on-court interview. “I played unbelievable tennis today. I really don’t know what happened.”
This is the biggest win by an American man at the US Open since wild card James Blake upset then-No.2 Nadal in the 2005 third round.
Tiafoe rallied from a break down in the fourth set to become the first American man to reach the last eight in New York since John Isner did it four years ago.
“Yeah, it was definitely one hell of a performance,” the 24-year-old said during his news conference. “I played really well today. Yeah, I guess, I mean, I just came out there and I just believed I could do it. It helps I played him a couple times. Haven’t played him in some years.
“I’m a different person now, different player. I went out there trying to get a dub, and that’s what I did.”
“You see all these young guys get Rafa, Fed, Novak. Am I ever going to be able to say I beat one of them? Today I was like, no, I’m going to do that.
“So now, it’s something to tell the kids, the grandkids, Yeah, I beat Rafa. Hopefully I never play him again, but hope I end with a win.”
This is Nadal’s first loss at a major in 2022.
Nadal in his news conference talked about the difference in the match:
“Well, the difference is easy: I played a bad match and he played a good match. At the end that’s it, no?
“I was not able to hold a high level of tennis for a long time. I was not enough quick on my movements. He was able to take the ball too many times very early, so I was not able to push him back.
“Yeah, tennis is a sport of position a lot of times, no? If not, you need to be very, very quick and very young (smiling). I am not in that moment anymore.
“My shots needs to be better. In some way my understanding of the game and the quality of my shots were not enough good, were poor, I think I have to say today, because I was not able to create that much on him.
“Yeah, well done for him. He was better than me.”
“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 in the 0n-cpurt interview. “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.”
“I’m a son of immigrants, both parents grew up in Sierra Leone, born and raised in Sierra Leone,” the Marylander said in his news conference. “Came to the States early ’90s, late ’80s, around there. Whatever. They met here, had me and my twin brother. My dad, being a maintenance worker at a club, help building a club ’99. My mom being a nurse, working two jobs, working overtime through the nights.
“Yeah, I mean, us being around tennis was kind of gets us getting out of our neighborhood. My dad kind of being able to watch us. It wasn’t anything supposed to be like this. Once we got in the game of tennis, it was like my dad was like, It would be awesome if you guys can use this as a full scholarship to school. I mean, we couldn’t afford a university. So use the game of tennis.
“At that time watching Serena and Venus play finals of Grand Slams at that time, when I was super young. I was like, how cool would it be to play Wimbledon, to play on Arthur Ashe and stuff like that.
“Yeah, I just had a big passion for the game. Not even mainly for me, but to do it for them. To see them experience me beat Rafa Nadal, they’ve seen me have big wins, but to beat those Mount Rushmore guys, for them, I can’t imagine what was going through their heads.
“Yeah, I mean, they’re going to remember today for the rest of their lives.”
“Well, all the credit to him, without a doubt. That’s the true. He did a lot of things well.
“But at the end when you finish a match, of course it’s important to recognize all the good things that the opponent is doing or the opponent did. Yes, without a doubt.
“But at the end of the day I need to analyze myself more than the opponent, no? I finish the match 15 minutes ago. Difficult for me yet to analyze.
“Of course, Tiafoe is playing more solid than before, serving well I think today, taking the ball very early, as I said before. Good backhands. He’s quick, as everybody knows.
“But I don’t think I pushed him enough to create him the doubts that I need to create. Tennis is always a balance. When somebody’s not playing that well, it’s easier that the opponent plays better. So if my ball is not a high-quality ball, then he’s able to do his game much easier. That the thing.
“Of course, he did the things well. If not, he will not win, without a doubt. Congrats to him. As I said before, no excuses at all. I’m completely happy to recognize that he was much better than me today.
“But at the end I need to analyze that I was not able to create the damage that normally I used to do.”
“He give myself a chance. Of course, yes, he played well. As I said, he did a lot of things very well. But if you want to be in the quarterfinals of the US Open, I need to do the things better. It’s clear.
“I mean, I had my chances. I had that break, then I had again a 15-40. I had a Love-30 in the first set, second serve, I missed the return.
“There have been a lot of moments that, if you are able to be ready to catch that point, situation can change. Can make a big difference, no? That’s all about confidence. It’s all about play better because at the end this sport, it’s about give the opportunities, take the opportunities, and try to save when the opponent is doing well, no?
“I was not able to do anything, any of these things this afternoon. So he was able to do it. He played with the right determination, yeah. Congrats to him. Wish him all the very best.
“I need to go back. I need to fix things, life, then I don’t know when I going to come back. I going to try to be ready mentally. When I feel that I will be ready to compete again, I will be there.”
Asked about the tweet from LeBron James, Tiafoe said:
“Man, I was losing it in the locker room. Bro, I was going crazy (smiling).
“Yeah, I mean, that’s my guy. So to see him post that, I was like, Do I retweet it as soon as he sent it? I was like, You know what, I’m going to be cool and act like I didn’t see it and then retweet it three hours later (laughter).
“Obviously, like, he knows I’m a big fan of his. Got a text from Rich Paul as well. That’s super cool. The fact they’re watching right now. It’s a perfect time. US Open is always a perfect time because there’s no real sports really going on. People can focus on tennis, which is great.”
Asked about what he was thinking after match point, Tiafoe said:
“I was telling my agent, I felt like the world stopped. I couldn’t hear anything for a minute. Even shaking his hand, I don’t even know what I said to him. It was such a blur.
“Like, I was already tearing. I could barely see him and my team. Everyone was up. It was just wild. My heart is going a thousand miles an hour. I was so excited. I was like, Let me sit down.
“Yeah, I’ve never felt something like that in my life, honestly.”
Tiafoe will be taking on Andrey Rublev next who beat Cameron Norrie in straight sets.
“I mean, also when I played Andrey (at Indian Wells), just came back from injury. I took, like, six weeks off. My first tournament back. He was playing really well. So I wasn’t as confident.
“He played well. He was the better player on the day. I mean, we’re both in the quarterfinals of a slam. I’m going to be playing a lot better. I’m going to have the crowd with me. It makes a big difference. A lot more at stake. It’s a totally different match I feel like.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a wild one if last year is any indication.”
Ninth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia beat the seventh seed Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to gain a berth in the quarterfinals of the US Open for the third time on Monday. The Russian will take on Frances Tiafoe for a chance to reach the final four.
“I think today was everything going my side,” Rublev told media. “Like when I need to play, like to make a good serve I was making good serve. Every time when I need him to miss he was missing.
“So everything was like today on my side. On top of that, I was playing good. I don’t know. I was making good shots, good winners. Yeah, and in the end I was able to win in three sets so I’m really happy.”
“If it’s Rafa, especially during the Grand Slams, I have nothing to lose. I have to go for the match, and that’s it.
“In case if it’s Frances, it’s a tough player. We play couple of times. I lost to him last year here at the US Open. So for sure he will try to use the energy, the crowd to be more pumped, to play better tennis. I just, with him, I need to wait for my moment and use it.”
In the night match which lasted until almost 2:30 in the morning, Carlos Alcaraz the third seed, beat 2-14 champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.