Rafael Nadal played only two Major matches this season, the career-lowest number. Rafa lost in the Australian Open second round after experiencing a hip injury, missing the rest of the year and hoping to embrace another season in 2024.
Nadal struggled in the second part of the previous season, heading to the US Open with an abdominal injury and ending his last notable streak at Majors. Rafa embraced 16 consecutive Major quarter-finals since the 2017 US Open, keeping it alive despite injuries and setbacks.
Nadal fell to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round after a great battle, terminating the fifth-best streak of consecutive Major quarter-finals in the Open era. The Spaniard lost an incredible clash against Gilles Muller in the 2017 Wimbledon fourth round, falling 15-13 in the decider after almost five hours.
Nadal bounced back at the US Open two months later, starting his streak and reaching a quarter-final at every Major for nearly five years. Rafa did not arrive at the last year's US Open at his best, struggling with an abdominal injury and playing only one match after withdrawing from Wimbledon.
Rafael Nadal failed to reach the 17th consecutive Major quarter-final.
Nadal kicked off his 16th US Open with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 triumph over world no. 198 Rinky Hijikata. The veteran sealed the deal in three hours and eight minutes after losing the opener.
Hijikata made an excellent start but could not keep that level. Rafa made another slow start against Fabio Fognini in the second round before prevailing 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in two hours and 43 minutes. The Italian led 6-2, 4-2 after 68 minutes before Rafa shifted into a higher gear and claimed 16 of the final 19 games, sealing the deal in under three hours and preserving energy.
Nadal played better behind the first and second serve and took 24 points more than Fognini. Fabio claimed 40% of the return points and delivered six breaks of serve. The Spaniard responded with over half of the return points on his tally.
Rafa reached the last 16 for the 12th time in New York following a 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 win over his old rival Richard Gasquet. Nadal defended six out of seven break points and mounted the pressure on the other side. Rafa hit 35 winners and 23 unforced errors, claiming over half of the return points and turning them into seven breaks from 15 opportunities.
Nadal could not pass his first real test in New York, falling to Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 at Arthur Ashe Stadium in three hours and 34 minutes. Nadal needed a medical timeout after the opening set and could not force a decider despite giving his everything in the fourth set.
Frances played aggressive tennis and remained composed in the decisive moments to deliver the most notable victory of his career. The American saved four out of six break points and fired 18 aces. Tiafoe broke Nadal five times to control the result and advance into the first quarter-final in front of the home fans.