Rafael Nadal suffered his worst US Open loss in six years on Monday as American Frances Tiafoe tagged the Spanish icon with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 fourth-round defeat.
The 26th-ranked Tiafoe made local tennis history as he earned the best American win here since Nadal lost in 2005 to James Blake.
As it happens, Blake was the on-court stadium interviewer for his compatriot post-match.
Tiafoe,who had never previously passed the fourth round at his home major, was all but speechless after victory in three and a half hours.
He broke Nadal in the final game as the Spaniard with 22 Grand Slam singles titles hit the net with a return.
“I don’t know what to say, I’m beyond happy,” the winner said. “I’m almost in tears, Rafa is one of the greatest of all time.
“I played unbelievable today, I really don’t know what happened.
“I came out to win a tennis match in front of this crowd. I’m just happy I got a win.
“I’m gonna soak this one in for sure.”
Tiafoe now faces Andrey Rublev, who beat British seventh seed Cam Norrie 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Tiafoe admitted that he was feeling his nerves as he closed in on his upset.
The American had to hold on in the eighth game of the fourth set after reaching 40-0 only to have Nadal threaten.
“My legs were like cement. I just wanted to get out of that game and not have to serve for the match,”: he said.
Tiafoe won the opening set after an hour of hard graft, breaking in the seventh game in the heavy conditions.
Nadal then left the court to change his sweaty clothes but over-ran the time limit by a good margin, returning after more than eight minutes away as Tiafoe fidgeted at his bench..
The Spaniard regained control to win the second on a single break at the end to leave the score deadlocked at a set apiece.
In the third, Tiafoe earned a set point as a shot skidded good off the net past Nadal; the American ended with his third ace a point later for the 2-1 lead on sets before closing put the win in four.
Rublev booked into a New York lat eight place for the third time in his career with his efficient win over Norrie.
He has played at that stage six times in his Grand Slam career, so far without a win.
The contest was interrupted midway through the second set as officials dithered over whether to close the roof with rain showers approaching.
They waited and paid the price as play had to be stopped and wiping the court with towels by ballkids took 20 or more minutes.
Rublev has now beaten three Top 10 players so far here.
“Everything was on my side,” the winner said. “When I needed a good serve, I got a good serve.
“he missed every time I needed him to. On top of that, I was playing good, I was making shots and winners.
“I was able to win in three sets and I’m happy.”
Main photo:- Frances Tiafoe can’t believe it as he beats Rafa Nadal – by Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd