Frances Tiafoe raced across the net to his chair like Pete Rose going to first base after a walk after smashing a two-handed backhand winner up the line to break Rafael Nadal in the third set of their match at the U.S. Open on Monday afternoon.
No. 24 Later, Tiafoe fired a 113 mph ace to seal the third set, and in front of a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium, he defeated the 22-time Grand Slam champion and No. 2 seed, winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to progress to his first U.S. Open semifinal and second major quarterfinal. As the lone American guy still in the draw, 24-year-old Frances Tiafoe victory was by far his biggest victory ever.
The last American man to win a major championship was Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open, a gap of 74 majors. To end the dry spell, Tiafoe will next play Russian No. 9 seed Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals. Since Roddick in 2006, he is the newest American to advance to the quarterfinals.
That was before Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic started to rule men’s tennis. Djokovic has won 21 Grand Slam tournaments. Federer, 41, has had much surgery on his right knee and has not competed since Wimbledon last year. Djokovic, 35, was unable to enter the US Open because he is not immunized against COVID-19 and was denied entry.
Moreover, since the beginning of 2005, this is only the second major in which none of Federer, Djokovic, or Nadal have advanced past the quarterfinals. The other was the 2020 French Open, where Djokovic lost by default to Pablo Carreno Busta in the round of 16. Federer and Nadal did not participate.
In January and June, respectively, Nadal won the Australian and French Opens. Then, in July, he advanced to the semifinals at Wimbledon before pulling out of the competition due to a torn abdominal muscle; this does not count as a loss because he withdrew before the match.