It only happens at every Grand Slam. One of the so-called next generations of Americans is starting to look dangerous, adding to the prospect of growth.
Then one of the biggest trophies in the sport, his enemies, will destroy his dream.
Recently, the Americans are getting closer, which makes it difficult to swallow the failures. Taylor Fritz said he wanted to cry in a courtside chair when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the fifth round of the Wimbledon quarterfinals this summer.
No one should dream anymore.
Francis Tiafoe performed better than any of the best Americans of his generation at the US Open on Monday, defeating Nadal in four sets to knock out one of the sport’s so-called Big Three – including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer – in a Grand Slam tournament.
Tiafoe beat Nadal, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, on an electric afternoon at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in a high-stakes and thrilling effort. As Nadal hits his final backhand into the net, he catches himself and falls to his knees.
“I don’t even know what happened,” Tiafoe said moments later. “Unbelievable Day”
The victory represents the next step for the American men, who have not won a Grand Slam singles title in 19 years. Tiafoe and his fellow 20-somethings became members of the 30 strong this year, but they haven’t quite reached the next level.
For Tiafoe, a strong and talented 24-year-old who is one of the fastest players in the game and built as an NFL defenseman, the win was the biggest of his career. It came in a packed stadium with the sound coming from the roof after almost every point, it was agonizing joy for both the American dogs and the favorite champion.
Tiafoe rode the crowd for all it was worth, punching and asking for more votes on his best shots. After the key winner gave a crucial break of Nadal’s serve in the third set, he ran to the bench, rousing the crowd even more and letting the boos rain down on him.
Serena Williams at the US Open
The US Open could be the tennis star’s last professional tournament after a long career of breaking boundaries and defying expectations.
Hey guys, even when facing a career break, Serena Williams has shown the strength and resilience that has kept fans cheering her on for nearly 30 years.The magic ends: Zoom into this photo collage to see Williams’ last time at Ashe Stadium this US Open.Her fans: We asked readers to share what it was like watching Williams play and what inspired her. There was no shortage of submissions.On-court sisterhood: Since Williams and her sister Venus burst onto the tennis scene in the 1990s, their legacies are intertwined.
The loss to second seed Nadal came less than 24 hours after top seed and defending champion Daniil Medvedev lost to Nick Kyrgios. He has opened the men’s tournament wide open and is guaranteed to become the first Grand Slam champion for the third year in a row.
Tiafoe said before the match that he had to match Nadal’s intensity from the first point to the last, and that’s exactly what he did. He stumbled briefly in the fourth set when he was forced to serve when the roof was closed due to rain forecast. Incredibly shaky, he complained to the chair umpire, missed an easy volley and weakened with his groundstrokes, allowing Nadal to break.
But in the next game, he quickly returned to break Nadal’s serve and then used his hammer and forehand to fend off many of his reach and misses. The service, which regularly hit 130 miles per hour on the radar gun, was very useful. A 134-per-hour rocket brought him within one game of the finish line.
Nadal, the 22-time Grand Slam champion, took advantage of the fact that he was not playing well.
Nadal is still finding his form and at the end of a strange injury-plagued year he may still be one of the best.
6 weeks before the Australian Open, he was unable to walk on his long injured left leg and thought he would have to retire. Then he started to feel better, playing and winning a tournament before the first Grand Slam of the year, coming back from two games down in the final against Medvedev.
He cracked a rib before the finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, and then the leg pain returned just weeks before the French Open. He had an injection to numb his leg before each match and still won his 14th French Open title. He also left Paris on crutches.
Playing on Wimbledon grass for the first time in three years, he improved with every match and is set to face Djokovic in the final. But he tore an abdominal muscle in his match against Fritz. The next day, he withdrew from the race.
Recovery from that injury took longer than expected. Nadal has played just one hard court match in New York, losing to Croatia’s Borna Coric from Ohio. At Queen’s, Australian wild card player Rinki Hijikata, ranked 198th in the world, recorded his first match in the first round. Nadal struggled to find the court for much of the first two sets of his second-round match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini.
Nadal had to consult a physiotherapist after the first set against Tiafoe on Monday. He made a couple of mistakes at key moments and couldn’t always produce the energy that’s so important to his power, but that leaves him vulnerable to injury.
After the match, Nadal was as philosophical as ever, complaining about his injury or wondering what might have happened if he hadn’t been injured or if distractions had not happened – his pregnant wife was in hospital in New York – it wouldn’t have changed the result. After all, sometimes he was hurt and somehow managed to come out on top – just like this time.
“We couldn’t find an excuse. He continued: “I was having a good workout a week ago, to be honest. But then, when the competition started, my level went down. This is the truth. For some reason, I don’t know, mental issues have happened in the last couple of months in terms of a lot of things. no matter. The only thing that happened in the end was that we went to the fourth round of the US Open and I faced a better player than me. That’s why I have a plane to go home to.
In the year
That performance, at age 21, heralded him as a potential force. People in the game began to see him as a savior for US men’s tennis, which has struggled for years to find the next big star.
Tiafoe says it was all too much too soon, and this was before he truly understood the dedication and commitment he had to take to the top level of the sport.
After shooting to the top 30, it fell. Since the middle of last year, it has continuously climbed the world rankings. In the year He made the last 16 at the US Open in 2020 and 2021, and made it to Wimbledon this year. Entering Monday’s matchup, New York had won nine games this year and was especially strong in crucial moments, with four shutouts. But at the same time he was fighting Nadal and history.
Tiafoe is winless in six tries against Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, although he gave Djokovic his all in four tight, physical sets at last year’s Australian Open.
He spoke about being more mentally prepared to face Nadal than he was three years ago.
“I don’t want to play him for the first time,” Nadal said of Nadal after his third-round win over 14th seed Diego Schwartzman. “Now I believe I can beat him.”
Tiafoe is part of a promising and talented group of American players that includes Fritz, Tommy Paul and Riley Opelka. They grew up together in youth tournaments and training at the United States Tennis Association’s centers in Florida.
They were born 12 months apart in 1997 and 1998 and have been joking and supporting each other since they were 14 years old. Tiafoe is always the alpha of the team, always looking to poke his mates in the ribs, especially Fritz.
Fritz was once the worst of the four but achieved the most success and holds the highest rank. Earlier this year, he earned his team’s first win at the big three, overcoming an ankle injury in the warm-up and defeating Nadal in the Indian Wells final.
Martin Blackman, the USTA’s director of player development, who has watched Tiafoe and others in his age group and played a role in the federation’s investment, said on Sunday he was confident Tiafoe would surpass the Grand Slam hurdle he faced against Nadal.
“It takes 100 percent focus and intensity from start to finish,” Blackman said.
That’s exactly what Tiafoe offered.