Since Serena Williams’ exit from the US Open last Friday, falling to Ajla Tomljanovic, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 1-6, some of the electricity has left the tournament with her. There may not be any more record-breaking crowds, but exciting tennis and drama continue to mark the event.
Francis Tiafoe is one of the players keeping the excitement alive. The No. 22 ranked Tiafoe, 24, from Hyattsville, Maryland, upset No. 2 ranked Rafeal Nadal on Monday at Arthur Ashe Stadium 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Monday to become the youngest American man to reach the US Open quarterfinals since Andy Roddick. At 24, Roddick made it to the finals in 2006.
Tiafoe, whose family migrated from Sierra Leone, displayed supreme confidence in handing Nadal his first grand slam loss this year. The four time US Open winner was 22-1 this Grand Slam campaign and won this year’s Australian Open and French Open. He withdrew from Wimbledon in July before his scheduled semifinal match.
He was the favorite entering the US Open after the men’s world No. 1 ranked player Novak Djokovic withdrew from the Open due to the United States’ COVID-19 travel restrictions. Djokovic is unvaccinated.
“They’re going to remember today for the rest of their lives,” said Tiafoe, speaking about his parents, who were in attendance along with other close supporters.
“To beat those Mount Rushmore guys, for them, I can’t imagine what was going through their heads,” referencing Nadal, one of the game’s all-time greats, who holds the record for the most men’s Grand Slam singles titles at 22.
Nadal’s assessment of his loss to Tiafoe was simple. “I played a bad match and he played a good match.”
Tiafoe took on No. 9 seed Andrey Rublev last night (Wednesday). Sharing the spotlight with Tiafoe was No. 24 seed Nick Kyrgios. He defeated the tournament’s No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6 in the fourth round.
“I’m just trying to not let people down,” said Kyrgios after defeating Medvedev. “I was in this press conference room a while back, and I lost in the third round. It was the worst feeling, because I’ve just got so much expectation. I’m finally able to show it now.”
Kyrgios could not keep the momentum going as he was eliminated from the Open in a match that began on Tuesday night and ended in the early hours of Wednesday. The Australian lost a tough five set battle to the No. 27 seed, Russian Karen Khachanov 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 4-6.