Frances Tiafoe had a breakthrough run at Majors at the last year's US Open. The American played well in front of the home crowd in New York, reaching his first Major semi-final. Frances took down a 22-time Major champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round for a career-best victory.
Tiafoe ousted Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in three hours and 34 minutes, delivering Rafa's only loss at Majors in 2022! Frances was thrilled about his performance, calling it a crazy win in front of the home crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The American played bold and aggressive tennis, taking ten points more than the Spaniard, who did not perform at his best due to an ongoing injury. Tiafoe blasted 18 aces, fending off four out of six break chances and keeping the pressure on the other side.
The youngster stole the veteran's serve five times from eight opportunities, improving his return game after failing to break Rafa in their two matches in 2019. Rafa hit 33 winners and 26 unforced errors, but it was not enough to force a decider.
Tiafoe threw everything at him after firing 49 winners and 28 unforced errors, overpowering the legend and setting the quarter-final clash against Andrey Rublev. Frances served at 44% in the opener, and no one could notice that.
He faced no break points and broke Rafa in game seven. The Spaniard received a medical timeout on his wrists and raised his level in the second set, dropping only five points in five service games. Tiafoe served at 44% again and could not keep his serve intact.
Frances Tiafoe defeated Rafael Nadal in four sets at the last year's US Open.
After eight commanding holds on both sides, Rafa held after deuce for 5-4 and delivered his first break in the next one to wrap up the set and level the overall score.
The American held with ease in the third set's five service games and stole the Spaniard's serve at 3-3 to forge the lead. Frances clinched the set on his serve in game ten to move two sets to one in front and gain a boost.
Nadal made the one last push in the fourth set's fourth game to open a 3-1 lead, doing his best to stay in touch. Tiafoe broke back in the next one, survived break points at 2-3 and delivered another break in game seven to gain a 4-3 advantage.
Rafa served to stay in the match at 3-5 and had nothing more left in the tank, experiencing the third straight break and propelling Frances into the last eight. "I have not even let it soak in yet, honestly. Those were the craziest two weeks of my life, stuff you dream about doing.
I felt a bit short following that tight loss. I have reached the fourth round in New York for three consecutive years, which is already a nice accomplishment. I'm the only player who beat Rafa Nadal at Majors this year after he claimed two titles.
Beating him at Majors is never easy, and I did that in front of the home crowd in New York. It felt crazy," Frances Tiafoe said.