Rafael Nadal crashed out of the US Open and looked like he was mentally not at his best after the defeat. Obviously – not only because of him.
On the court, the Spanish legend lost 4:6, 6:4, 4:6, 3:6 to Francis Tiafoe, who is #26 in the ranking. The American showed loads of energy, sportsmanship, incredible dynamism and athleticism.
And he broke down emotionally on the court in tears after his biggest and well-deserved career win.
It took three hours and 32 minutes to bring down one of the two toughest beasts in tennis. Nadal, even when he’s not playing well – as he was tonight – never gives up.
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But this was Tiafoe’s game, which the 22-time Slam champion had no hesitation in admitting.
“The difference? I played bad, he played very well – Nadal said. – In our sport, there are several important things. To run a lot, to position yourself well, to be fast… To be young.
I have to go home, rest, sort out a lot of things in my life and in tennis. And then thinking about when I’ll be back playing. I don’t know when it will be. But it won’t be until I am confident that I will be able to fight for the title. Here, from day one, I felt that it was not so.”
Nadal was uncertain throughout the tournament until the round of 16, where he lost. At 36 years old, he is 12 more tied than Tiafoe, and it showed in the third and fourth sets.
How often have you seen a clear difference in Rafa’s matches in energy, and not in his favor?
It was also the first time in 2022 that Nadal lost a Grand Slam match. In the previous three tournaments, he won two titles (Australia and Paris), and in London he withdrew with an injury before the semi-final, but was undefeated on the court.
Despite the defeat, the Spaniard could become No. 1 in the rankings from Monday if neither Carlos Alcaraz nor Casper Ruud play a final.
The reward for Tiafoe is a match in the quarter-finals with Andrey Rublev, who won 6:4, 6:4, 6:4 over the British Norrie.
Yanik Siner, the two-time champion in Sofia, whom we will see again in our country at the end of the month, won a five-set thriller with Ilya Ivashka – 6:1, 5:7, 6:2, 4:6, 6:3.
The Italian will meet Marin Cilic or Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals.