Nadal Stunned By Tiafoe At US Open; Kyrgios, Berrettini v Ruud Tues
Less than 24 hours after top seed Daniil Medvedev was bounced out of the US Open by Nick Kyrgios, 4-time champion Rafael Nadal followed the Russian out of New York.
Nadal suffered his first defeat of the season in Slams going down to a fully-charged Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
“I played unbelievable tennis today. I really don’t even know what happened,” Tiafoe told the crowd. “At 4-3, when I went up 40-love, my legs were like cement.
Nadal was a perfect 5-0 in sets against the American with two wins in 2019. But Tiafoe has evolved since then, and today didn’t back down taking his power game to Nadal.
Rafa’s shot didn’t have the zip and his movement wasn’t quite there, but advantage to Tiafoe who cracked his serve to a first set lead. Nadal would level and we had a match.
Nadal was finding the groove but mid-way through the third dropped serve on a Tiafoe backhand winner, and the American sprinted to the chair with the break.
Tiafoe would take a 2-1 set lead, a deficit Nadal had never recovered from at the US Open. The roof closed and that upset Tiafoe who moments later would give up a break to go down 3-1. But Nadal wouldn’t win another game. Tiafoe rose up and ran off the last five games as Nadal looked gassed.
“I felt like the world stopped,” said Tiafoe on winning. “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.
“I’ve never felt something like that in my life, honestly.”
Nadal suffered his earliest loss at a Slam since 2017 Wimbledon.
“I was not able to hold a high level of tennis for a long time,” said Nadal. “I was not quick enough in my movement. He was able to take the ball too many times very early, so I was not able to push him back. Tennis is a sport of position a lot of times. If not, you need to be very, very quick and very young. I am not in that moment anymore.
“My shots need to be better,” he added. “In some ways, my understanding of the game and the quality of my shots were not good enough, were poor.”
Into his first US Open quarterfinal, Tiafoe will meet the big-hitting Andrey Rublev.
The Russian joined his countryman Karen Khachanov in the final eight with a resounding 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Cameron Norrie. Rublev pounded 30 winners to just 17 unforced errors and lost just 12 points on first serve en route to his third US Open quarterfinal and sixth Slam quarter of his career.
“Today everything was going my side. Like when I needed to play, to make a good serve, I was making a good serve. Every time, when I needed him to miss, he was missing,” Rublev said.
Jannik Sinner tossed in 14 double faults but got into his first US Open quarterfinal in a post-midnight win over Ilya Ivashka 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in 3 hours, 45 minutes.
Sinner, who has no made the quarterfinals at all four Slams, was up a break 1-0 then slipped going down 3-1. From that point the Italian won five straight games to join countryman Berrettini in the quarters.
He’ll now meet Carlos Alcaraz who won in five over Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in a match that ended at 2:24am.
Cilic had a quick break at 1-0 in the fifth but the teen won six of the next eight games to return to the US Open quarterfinals.
Tomorrow, with the draw blown open the pressure will increase. Former semifinalist Matteo Berrettini battles Casper Ruud and in the evening Nick Kyrgios will take on another big Russian in Karen Khachanov who has never made a Slam semifinal.
TUESDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium, Day Session – 12:00 PM Start
Matteo Berrettini (ITA)  vs. Casper Ruud (NOR) 
Ons Jabeur (TUN)  vs. Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS)
7:00 PM Start
Coco Gauff (USA)  vs. Caroline Garcia (FRA) 
Nick Kyrgios (AUS)  vs. Karen Khachanov (RUS) 
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