American Frances Tiafoe upsets Rafael Nadal in 4th round of US Open
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The American Open marked the end of the year that began with the unexpected retirement of Bernard Tomic, the third major-decision defeat of Nadal in as many seasons, and another opportunity for the Spaniard to extend his winning streak into the quarterfinals.
A year after losing an extra-hard-to-surmount third-round match at Wimbledon to Novak Djokovic, the 37-year-old Nadal was again able to take his game, and his No. 4 ranking, into a quarterfinal meeting against one of his toughest remaining opponents.
Djokovic, who defeated Nadal on clay three weeks ago in Acapulco, Mexico, had a few words of advice for his American compatriot before this week’s opening match.
“I’ll tell you something, Rafa. Don’t get stressed out… just play your game,” Djokovic said as the sun was setting behind the 18th green on Sunday.
“You have a lot of very good players out there. It’s Rafa’s match. If he plays his game, he’s going to win this,” the 22-year-old Djokovic said. “You have the feeling that he’s going to go into Sunday being the No. 1 player in the world. And that’s what you have to be ready for.”
The match will be the sixth meeting between the pair in the past five years. Djokovic has won the opening two meetings, including his most important win by way of securing No. 1 status. The second of those wins came at Wimbledon, where he beat Nadal for the seventh time.
Nadal, who lost his fourth-round match to Denis Istomin of Serbia in Rome, fell to Djokovic for the first time since their 2011 US Open meeting to fall out of the No. 1 ranking. And after all he had done in the past four months, this was his moment in the sun: a title at the US Open.
The fact that his first chance at a major title had to