Nadal beaten in Grand Slam for first time in 2022

Frances Tiafoe (right) had lost his previous two meetings with Rafael Nadal
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 29 August-11 September
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries across BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the website and app

Rafael Nadal has been beaten in a Grand Slam for the first time in 2022, losing to Frances Tiafoe in the US Open fourth round.

American Tiafoe thrilled the home crowd with a 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over four-time champion Nadal in New York.

The defeat ended the Spaniard’s bid for a record-extending 23rd major singles title.

Nadal led the fourth set 3-1 before Tiafoe hit back, winning five games in a row to secure his quarter-final spot.

He will face Russian ninth seed Andrey Rublev for a place in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.

Tiafoe threw his racquet to the floor and covered his face in disbelief as his victory was confirmed by a netted Nadal backhand.

After thanking the crowd he covered his face with his towel, taking in the atmosphere on a raucous Arthur Ashe stadium.

Nadal has never looked settled in New York this year but that is not to take anything away from Tiafoe, who played a clever match.

The defeat means that Marin Cilic, who won the US Open title in 2014, is the only Grand Slam singles winner left in the men’s draw.

Nadal undone by entertaining Tiafoe

Nadal went into this match with a 22-0 record in Grand Slams this year, having won the Australian Open and French Open titles before withdrawing from Wimbledon after his quarter-final victory with an abdominal injury.

That injury restricted his build-up to the US Open with Nadal arriving at Flushing Meadows having playing only once since, a defeat by Borna Coric in Cincinnati.

He has struggled for fluency at times in New York, particularly in his second-round match against Fabio Fognini, and showed similar nerves on serve against Tiafoe.

Having changed his ball toss to protect the injury that ended his Wimbledon campaign, Nadal looked shorn of speed and confidence on his serve, and was broken by Tiafoe at 3-3 in the opener.

He managed to put Tiafoe under pressure in response but the American came through to hold serve and then converted his third set point with a nice touch at the net.

After losing the first set, Nadal disappeared off court with the physiotherapist for eight minutes and appeared to have strapping added to his wrists.

Although his serve never clicked – he finished with nine double faults to nine aces – he was able to take advantage of one poor Tiafoe service game at 5-4 in the second, and was gifted the set on a Tiafoe double fault.

The third set mirrored the first, Tiafoe breaking for a 4-3 lead with a fine backhand winner, and the American delighted his home crowd as he closed it out with an ace.

Nadal appeared reinvigorated in the fourth set, pumping his fists and roaring at the crowd after saving a break point in the first game, and he was gifted an early advantage.

Tiafoe, distracted by the roof closing because of the threat of rain as he served at 2-1 down, threw in a horrible service game, with Nadal breaking thanks to a huge forehand into the corner of the court.

Tiafoe has endured some difficult losses in recent weeks, squandering strong positions against Taylor Fritz and Nick Kyrgios, but he showed no signs of nerves against Nadal.

He broke back immediately, helped by two Nadal double faults, and saved break points in his next service game with some excellent counter-punching, before breaking Nadal twice more to close out the match.

Despite the defeat, Nadal could still move to the top of the men’s rankings after the tournament following defending champion Daniil Medvedev’s loss to Kyrgios.

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz and Norway’s Casper Ruud would need to reach the final at least to have a chance to become the world number one.

Alcaraz plays Cilic later on Monday, while Ruud will face Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

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