Twenty-two-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal was upset in the fourth round of the US Open by American Frances Tiafoe on Monday at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York.
In a match that lasted more than 3 hours and 30 minutes, the Maryland native defeated Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Tiafoe, 24, is the youngest American man to make it this far at the US Open since Andy Roddick, 24, was a finalist in 2006.
“It was definitely a hell of a performance,” he said after the game. “I played really well today. Yeah, I guess, I mean, I just went out there and I just thought I could do it. It helps to play with him a couple of times.”
Earlier in the tournament, Tiafoe said he was happy to go largely unnoticed.
After his win on Monday, he expressed joy at what his win against Nadal meant to his parents, who immigrated to the United States from Sierra Leone.
“I just had a great passion for the game. Not even mostly for me, but to do it for them. Seeing them live like I beat Rafa Nadal, they’ve seen me win big, but to beat those guys of Mount Rushmore, for them, I can’t imagine what was going through their heads.
“Yeah, I mean, they’ll remember today for the rest of their lives.”
Nadal, 36, recorded his first loss at a Grand Slam event this year and is now 22-1 this season. The Spaniard won the Australian Open and French Open before pulling out of Wimbledon in July ahead of his scheduled semi-final clash with Australian Nick Kyrgios.
“The difference is easy,” Nadal said afterward. “I had a bad game and he had a good game. In the end that’s all, right?”
Nadal said Tiafoe played more solidly than in previous matches between the two, served well, had good backhands and was quick.
“But I don’t think I pushed him enough to create the doubt in him that I need to create,” he said. “Of course, he did things right. If not, he won’t win, no doubt. Congratulations to him.”
Nadal said he needs to “fix things” and when he feels mentally ready to compete again, he will, but he is unsure of the timetable.
Tiafoe will face Russia’s Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The US Open men’s singles final is scheduled for Sunday.
Tiafoe’s parents met in the United States, where they would have twins, Franklin and Frances.
His father joined the Junior Tennis Champions Center as a laborer in 1999 in College Park.
While working around the clock, his father was forced to move into an empty storage room at the tennis center, where his two boys stayed with him, sleeping there, while their mother worked night shifts as nurse Tiafoe picked up the sport, was able to play center for free and fell in love with the sport.
Tiafoe previously said that while his family didn’t grow up rich, he wouldn’t change a thing.
He told reporters on Monday: “Being around tennis got us out of our neighborhood. My dad can see us. It wasn’t meant to be. Once we got into tennis, it was like my dad I was like, it would be great if you could use this as a full scholarship for school. I mean, we couldn’t afford college.”