Frances Tiafoe Is First Black American Male To Advance To US Open Quarterfinals In 16 Years And The Only Man To Beat Rafael Nadal In A Grand Slam In 2022

(Photo by Frey/TPN/Getty Images)

It took four sets and just over three and a half hours for Frances Tiafoe to advance to his first grand slam quarterfinal at the US Open. Tiafoe defeated 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.

Tiafoe is the first American male to advance to the quarters in 11 years, and the first Black American male to make the quarterfinal round in 16 years. With his victory he is the only man to defeat Nadal at a Grand Slam this year. Nadal won in Australia and at Roland Garros.

“Yeah, it was definitely one hell of a performance. I played really well today. Yeah, I guess, I mean, I just came out there and I just believed I could do it,” Tiafoe said in his post-match presser. “It helps I played him a couple times. Haven’t played him in some years. I’m a different person now, different player. I went out there trying to get a dub, and that’s what I did.”

Tiafoe was superb all afternoon and early evening on tennis’ biggest stage. He served 18 aces against only four double faults, and won 76 percent of the points on his first serve. He converted five of eight break chances, and, most important, he mostly held his serve, being broken only twice.

At 24, Tiafoe is ranked 26th in world, and he is the highest-ranked Black American male tennis player. This quarterfinals run will bump him up a few spots, and if he can advance to the semis, he’ll have a chance to sneak into the top 15.

With Nadal out and defending champion Daniil Medvedev out, the men’s title is up for grabs. There is no man left in the draw who has won a slam. With the “Big 3” of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at the ends of their brilliant careers, it’s time for the next generation.

“Yeah, I think Nick [Kyrgios] playing great tennis is great for tennis. You see him packing stadiums when he’s playing singles, doubles, whatever. [Carlos] Alcaraz is a great personality. [Jannik] Sinner. Myself. People get behind me. You know the American guys, Tommy [Paul], [Taylor] Fritz. There’s a ton of guys playing great tennis.
“I don’t think it will be a big three. It will be like a big 12. There’s a bunch of guys playing great tennis. I think it’s good. For sure, you’ll probably have someone who probably like will cement and be at the top. That’s still kind of happening. We’ll see who that person’s going to be. It’s cool to see a new era.”

There will be a first-time Grand Slam champion on the men’s side, so why not Tiafoe? After his win over Nadal Las Vegas bookmakers have moved his odds to +1100. Fifth-best among the remaining players.

“Yeah, everyone is looking at it, I’m sure, everyone looks at it, like, Here we go, right? So am I. I’m just taking it day by day,” Tiafoe said when asked about winning the tournament. “Yeah, Slams, crazy things can happen. Especially here in New York, so … Yeah, it’s going to be a fun ride come Wednesday.”

Tiafoe takes on Russia’s Andrey Rublev in Wednesday’s quarterfinal. They two have played twice and they’ve each won one. Rublev defeated Tiafoe this year at Indian Wells in straight sets. Last year Tiafoe defeated Rublev at the U.S. Open in a thrilling five-set match.

Tune in on Wednesday, this one will be fun.


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