For his return to New York since his 2019 title, Rafael Nadal fell from a height: the Spaniard was eliminated on Monday in the last 16 of the US Open by American Frances Tiafoe, who knew how to lead him to speed.
In the absence of Novak Djokovic, he was denied entry to US soil because he was not vaccinated against Covid, world number 2 Alexander Zverev, who is recovering from a right ankle injury, and after Sunday eliminating world number 1 and defending champion Daniil Medvedev, Mallorca was the favorite to win Palmidore is fifth at Flushing Meadows and raises his grand slam record to 23.
But he signed Tiafoe (26th in the world) who played the match of his life when he himself regretted not being able to play his best tennis.
“He played well, he did a lot of things very well,” said the 36-year-old Spaniard. “For my part, I had chances, and if I want to be in the quarter-finals, I have to play better than that.” ..
“You have to be ready to take the chances that I had. I couldn’t. He knew how to do it, and he played with the right determination.”
Nadal converted only two of his six break points when Tiafoe won five of his eight.
Nadal’s defeat has left the race wide open for the world number one that Medvedev will automatically give up on September 12: the Spaniard remains in the race, but the chances of his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz and Norway’s Casper Ruud, are still in the race. In New York, I suddenly jumped.
Tiafoe, who has never made it past the last 16 at the US Open (he reached the quarter-finals in Australia in 2019), continued his path.
“I don’t know what to say, I can’t believe it… I played tennis incredibly, and I don’t know what happened,” he said warmly, on a cloud, before leaving Arthur-Ashe Stadium where the feat and the applause of the crowd had clouded his eyes.
He will face Russian Andrei Rublev (11) for a place in the semi-finals.
Having had to fight five sets in the previous round to knock out Canadian Denis Shapovalov in a tiebreaker in over 4 hours of fighting, the Russian eliminated Britain’s Cameron Norrie (9) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
“We’re still playing two and a half hours,” he half-jokingly said, “it’s long!”
At the age of 24, he will attempt for the sixth time to reach the round of four in the Grand Slam tournament, his third attempt in New York.
Swiatek scares himself
The eighth day of the US Open will see the Spanish phenomenon, Carlos Alcaraz (fourth), attempting to qualify for the quarter-finals (like last year for his first participation), by facing the Croatian Marin Cilic (17 and 2014 winner).
In the women’s draw, American Jessica Pegula (eighth) easily defeated Czech Karolina Pliskova (21) 6-3 6-2 and will play her first quarter-final at Flushing Meadows.
She will be up against world N.1 Iga Swiatek who frightened herself before eventually beating Germany’s Jule Niemeier (108) 2-6, 6-4, 6-0, in an irregular match where she committed a total of 76 non-compulsory fouls and where a 12 break.
“It’s really satisfying,” Swiatek commented, “It’s going to be my first quarter-final match in New York, so I’m really proud.”
The 21-year-old Polish, two-time Roland Garros winner (2020 and 2022) and the first representative of her country to reach this stage at the US Open, was eliminated this year in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Then she lost in the second round in Dubai, but since the next tournament, in Doha, she played 37 matches unbeaten, winning six titles, in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and Roland Garros, until his fall. In the third round at Wimbledon.
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