Rafa Nadal has left tennis fans stunned at the US Open after retiring and walking off in the middle of a rally during his shock loss to Frances Tiafoe.
Tiafoe produced the excitement of the US Open so far when he shocked the 22-time Grand Slam champion in four sets in the fourth round on Monday.
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Tiafoe buried his head in his hands and cried on the pitch after shaking hands with Nadal before burying his head in his towel as Nadal walked away and waved to the crowd.
The inscription might have been on the wall for Nadal as he resigned at one point in extraordinary scenes in the third set.
Nadal and Tiafoe were each suspended with a set, with the American leading 5-3 in the third when Nadal retired in the middle of a rally.
Forced to hit a defensive lob after being moved to the backhand side by Tiafoe, Nadal knew as soon as he hit the ball he wouldn’t win the point.
Despite his shot going over the net, Nadal turned his back on the court and just walked over to pick up his towel.
Tiafoe remained the easiest winner as the audience in attendance audibly gasped that Nadal had surrendered.
“This will be the slowest winning goal today,” said a TV commentator.
While Nadal had a good chance of winning the point, many were stunned that he would just walk away instead of fighting to the end and making Tiafoe deserve it.
Tennis author Yasmin Syed tweeted: “Maybe the first time in my life I’ve seen Nadal resign on a point? Understandable in this case.”
The American outsider continued with the set to take a 2-1 lead before completing an exceptional upset 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-3.
Tiafoe, 24, is the youngest American to reach the quarterfinals since Andy Roddick did it in 2006 when he was 24.
To Daniil Medvedev’s loss to Nick Kyrgios On Sunday, Nadal had a chance to recapture the world No. 1.
However, Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud both now have the opportunity to become world No. 1 for the first time.
Before the loss, Nadal was 22-0 in Grand Slam matches in 2022 after winning the Australian Open and French Open before retiring ahead of the Wimbledon semifinals.
The Spaniard was 21-1 against Americans since October 2017, including straight-set wins over Tiafoe in the Australian Open quarterfinals and Madrid third round in 2019.
Tiafoe meets ninth seed Andrey Rublev in the last eight after the Russian pulled off a 6-4 6-4 6-4 win over seventh-seeded Briton Cameron Norrie.
Iga Swiatek overcomes stumbling to progress
Meanwhile, is number 1 in the world Iga Swiatek has scheduled a quarterfinal showdown with Jessica Pegula after overcoming an early deficit against Jule Niemeier.
Pegula faced two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova but she pushed her aside 6-3, 6-2 to reach her third major quarterfinal of 2022.
Swiatek defeated Niemeier of Germany 2-6 6-4 6-0 but is clearly not in the form that brought her 37 straight wins earlier this season.
Swiatek was only 4-4 into the US Open in her last eight games, but she hadn’t lost a set at Flushing Meadows as of Monday.
Niemeier got the early jump – as she warned the crowd to get louder – and bravely tried to score another Grand Slam excitement and knock out seed number two Anett Kontaveit at Wimbledon.
Swiatek stabilized in the second set, hitting 10 winners and she converted the third set into a 6-0 loss.
The world No. 1 became the first Pole to reach the quarterfinals at the US Open and is aiming to become the first top-seeded woman to win it since Serena Williams in 2014.
“I’m just proud that I didn’t give up hope because she played really well in the first set,” she said on the pitch.
“I’m pretty happy I used my experience to keep the same level throughout the game.”
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