Rafael Nadal: 'I had to play better to reach QF'

“I had to play better to reach QF”

Rafael Nadal clinched two Major titles in 2022, winning 22 games out of 23 in the most notable scene. The Spaniard conquered the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the same year for the first time in his career. He retired ahead of the Wimbledon semifinals with a stomach injury, ruining his chances for a third straight Major title.

The Spaniard only played one match before the US Open and was not at his best in New York. Nadal struggled to serve at full pace, beating three rivals before falling to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round. With that, Nadal lost valuable points in the No.

1 Battle as Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud managed to overtake him on Friday. Frances defeated Rafa 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in three hours and 34 minutes in front of his partisan crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The American fired 50 winners and controlled the pace to maintain the upper hand.

He played better in the crucial moments, grabbing five straight games with a 3-1 deficit in the fourth set to send Nadal out of the event. Tiafoe broke Nadal five times and put on an inspired performance that put him in the last eight.

Rafa admitted he didn’t play well enough to reach the quarterfinals and praised his rival and his level. Frances broke 3-3 in the opener and landed a volley winner in game ten to end it after 54 minutes. Nadal played well in the second set after an extended medical time-out, dropping five points in five service games.

Rafa held after deuce in game nine and delivered his first break a few minutes later after France’s double fault to level the aggregate. Tiafoe kept it all in his five service games in the third set.

Rafael Nadal lost to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round of the US Open.

The American placed a backhand down the line in game seven to move forward, firing an ace at 5-4 to win the set and move closer to the finish line.

The Spaniard was ready to fight until the end, scoring a forehand crosscourt winner in the fourth game of the fourth set to forge a 3-1 lead. However, Frances pulled the break back in the next before being faced with two more break points at 2-3.

The American scored four points in a row and sealed the game with an ace to equalize 3-3. Rafa grabbed a backhand in game seven, losing serve and finding himself near the exit door. Tiafoe opened a 5-3 gap with his 18th ace and won the fifth straight game with a break minutes later to take the lead.

“I played badly and Frances played well. I had to play better to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open; it’s easy. I had my chances after breaking it in the fourth set, which gives me confidence and momentum could have changed.

Nevertheless, unlike Frances, I couldn’t perform today. He was a better player and I congratulate him. Now it’s time to go home and mentally prepare for the challenges ahead. I will return when I feel ready,” said Rafael Nadal.

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