Tennis Prose



Tiafoe Slays Nadal At US Open

By Scoop Malinowski

While the majority of tennis observers were shocked to see Mr. 22 Grand Slams Rafael Nadal upset today in the fourth round by Frances Tiafoe, the result was not a total shocker, because of the early promise and potential Tiafoe showed on the big stages of tennis.

In 2017, Big Foe extended Roger Federer to 6-4 in the fifth set in a thrilling US Open first round showdown.

Earlier that year in Miami, in his first match vs Federer, Tiafoe lost 76 63.

In his first two duels with Nadal in 2019, Foe lost 63 64 62 in Australia and 64 63 in Madrid on clay.

Last year in Australia, second round, Foe troubled eventual champ Novak Djokovic in their first and only meeting which ended up 63 67 76 63 for the Serbian titan.

Tiafoe also came very close to beating Juan Martin Del Potro in their first match in Acapulco 2017, 64 36 76, and then again in their third clash Tiafoe beat Delpo in Delray Beach 2018, 76 46 75.

So for a few years now, Tiafoe was so very “close but no cigar” to slay the dragons of the ATP World Tour.

Today, on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 24 year old American currently ranked 26 in the world, galvanized all of his talents, energies, experiences and conquered Rafael Nadal with an unforgettable performance of brute power, brilliant precision and shot selection, mental bravery and cool under immense pressure.

As he said bluntly after to the awed crowd inside Ashe, “I came not to respect him too much and give you the win.”

Tiafoe believed today was his day. He had to overcome adversity though to finish the extremely difficult job. After Tiafoe established the two to one set lead, Nadal rebounded for a 3-1 advantage in the fourth set. But it was Tiafoe who raised his level to a caliber of play that Nadal was unable to match. Tiafoe won five straight games to emphatically and dramatically slam dunk Nadal 64 46 64 63.

The final deathblow was a two handed backhand approach shot on a short ball, targeted to Nadal’s backhand which was then netted.

Nadal, who earlier in the match tanked a point by walking to his chair even before Tiafoe hit the ball to finish the point, said after he played a bad match and Big Foe played a good match.

It will be interesting to see where Tiafoe goes from here and if he can sustain the momentum in the QF vs Andrey Rublev. Or will he overcelebrate the biggest victory of his life?

Tiafoe still had a losing ATP career record at 127-137 and if he can win this US Open it would be his second ATP singles title.

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