Rafa Nadal’s tennis future is in doubt after his Shock US Open loss to Frances Tiafoebut his coach Carlos Moya has shed more light on the Spaniard’s goals.
The tennis world was then stunned Tiafoe pulled off an impressive surprise 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-3 over Nadal, seriously hurting the 36-year-old’s hopes of becoming world No. 1 again.
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Nadal previously held the top spot in early 2020 before slipping down to sixth place as he dealt with a series of injury issues in 2020 and 2021.
He made a stellar Grand Slam comeback in 2022, winning the Australian Open and French Open to climb seriously to the top of the rankings again.
A deep run at the US Open would have put him in serious trouble trying to reclaim the top spot, but it’s uncertain when he actually will, judging by his comments following his loss to Tiafoe that ended the Spaniard’s 22-match Grand Slam winning streak will play again .
“I’ll try to be mentally ready,” he said after the excitement at the US Open.
“When I feel like I’m ready to compete again, I’ll be there.”
Nadal’s scintillating form in 2022, marred only by his retirement from the Wimbledon semi-finals through injury, had fans excited about a possible slant to regaining the top spot.
However, since losing to Tiafoe, coach Moya has poured cold water on the idea that Nadal had ambitions to reach the top spot before retiring from the sport.
“Being number one again has a lot of value; to end the year at the top of the rankings, even more so,” Moya told ATP.
“If you look at his schedule, it’s clear it’s not a goal.
“The most important thing for him is to take care of his body and be good for the Grand Slams. But if it is put in front of him, then of course we will try.”
Nadal is now set to return to Spain as some believe he could be in doubt for the Laver Cup, which takes place in London later this month.
The number 1 isn’t really out of reach for Nadal, but it’s up to neither Carlos Alcaraz nor Casper Ruud to reach the US Open final.
Rafael Nadal’s plans after shock US Open defeat unclear
Tiafoe ended Nadal’s hopes of a 23rd Slam in a three-hour, 34-minute triumph.
The win marks the latest significant step forward for 24-year-old Tiafoe, whose only previous trip to the last eight of a Major at the 2019 Australian Open ended in a loss to Nadal.
“I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m so happy. I can’t believe it,” Tiafoe said.
“He’s one of the greatest of all time. I played incredible tennis today but I don’t even know what happened.”
Tiafoe is the youngest American to make it that far in New York since Andy Roddick in 2006, and his victory left the US Open without the top seeded men in the quarterfinals since 2000, as No. 1 Andre Agassi in the second Round eliminated and No.2 Gustavo Kuerten in the first.
“When I first came on stage, a lot of people had limitations on what I would do… I wasn’t mentally ready for it. I wasn’t ‘mature,'” Tiafoe said.
But these days, he added, “I can just go my own way and enjoy the game I love.”
The 36-year-old made just one appearance in the six weeks between leaving the All England Club and arriving in New York while recovering from the abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw his Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.
His game was not up to his usual standards at the US Open, which he has won four times.
“Well done for him,” said the Spaniard.
“He was better than me… In the end, that was it.”
Now come the inevitable questions of whether the era of Nadal and non-starters Novak Djokovic (not vaccinated against COVID-19) and Roger Federer (recovering from knee surgery) is coming to an end.
“It means the years go on,” said Nadal.
“This is the natural cycle of life.”
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.
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