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Rafael Nadal Upset by Frances Tiafoe in Round of 16 at 2022 US Open

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 5, 2022

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Frances Tiafoe advanced to his first U.S. Open quarterfinal following a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 upset of No. 2 Rafael Nadal on Monday.

With the result, Tiafoe joined select company as he comprehensively dispatched the future Hall of Famer:

US Open Tennis @usopen

Home cookin' ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ <a href="https://t.co/tuxygYy8JI">pic.twitter.com/tuxygYy8JI</a>

He had 49 winners to 33 for Nadal and hit 18 aces. It's not often you see Nadal as overwhelmed as he was at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Tiafoe wasn't necessarily dominant through the first three rounds of the tournament, but he won each match in straight sets because he consistently delivered in the big moments.

One such occasion arrived in the opening set with Nadal serving at 3-3. The 24-year-old earned a service break to take his first lead of the match.

US Open Tennis @usopen

Frances Tiafoe gets the early break in Ashe! <a href="https://t.co/2hA6ephEGy">pic.twitter.com/2hA6ephEGy</a>

That set the stage for Tiafoe to go into the 10th game up 5-4 and serving for the set. On his first set point, he hammered a forehand down the line to get Nadal out wide and set up a winner at the net with his next shot.

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

FRANCES TIAFOE TAKES THE FIRST SET AGAINST NADAL IN THE ROUND OF 16โ€ผ๏ธ ๐Ÿ’ฅ ๐ŸŽพ <a href="https://twitter.com/usopen?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@usopen</a> <a href="https://t.co/0UkpZarj0b">pic.twitter.com/0UkpZarj0b</a>

Proper order was restored in the second set as the battle-tested Nadal began ratcheting up the pressure on Tiafoe. With his opponent serving to stay alive, Nadal couldn't capitalize on his first break-point chance but watched on as a double fault leveled the match at one set apiece.

That did little to shake Tiafoe's confidence. He captured what proved to be the only break point of the third set, which was the decisive moment to help him claim a 2-1 lead.

Chris Williamson @CWilliamson44

Frances Tiafoe said he ainโ€™t afraid of one of greatest weโ€™ve ever seen in Nadal!!

Ben Dowsett @Ben_Dowsett

This is insane tennis from Tiafoe

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

Tiafoe at 38 winners vs 20 unforced errors through three sets. Big time performance. <a href="https://t.co/RgtznEyPXP">https://t.co/RgtznEyPXP</a>

Nadal's reputation precedes him. Plenty of fans expected the southpaw to dig down deep and hit a new level. When he was younger, the 22-time Grand Slam champion may have been able to come back.

On Monday, it wasn't to be.

Tiafoe began to wobble a bit in the fourth set when he dropped serve to fall behind 1-3. He maintained his poise to earn what might be a defining result in his career if this signals what's to come.

Tiafoe will play Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals. The pair have split their first two meetings, with Rublev coming out on top most recently at Indian Wells in March.

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