Frances Tiafoe, son of a Sierra Leonean family in the US has taken down Rafael Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the fourth round at the US Open.
The achievement has been recorded as the biggest win of Frances’ career.
Frances Tiafoe was born on January 20, 1998, along with his twin brother Franklin, in Maryland, to Constant (better known as Frances Sr.) Tiafoe and Alphina Kamara, immigrants from Sierra Leone.
His father emigrated to the United States in 1993, while his mother joined him in 1996 to escape the civil war in their country.
In 1999, his father began working as a day laborer on a construction crew that built the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland.
When the facility was completed, he was hired as the on-site custodian and given a spare office to live in at the center.
Frances and Franklin lived with their father at the center for five days a week for the next 11 years.
They took advantage of their living situation to start playing tennis regularly at age 4.
They stayed with their mother when she was not working night shifts as a nurse.
Nadal boasted an undefeated 22-0 record at Grand Slams this year and was in prime position to take Daniil Medvedev’s spot atop the ATP rankings should he had advanced to the quarter-finals.
Instead, Tiafoe stunned the four-time champion to book a meeting with Andrey Rublev.
“I don’t know what to say right now. I’m beyond happy, I’m almost in tears, I can’t believe it.
He’s got to be one of the greatest of all time. I played unbelievable tennis today but … I don’t know what happened.”
Tiafoe said post-match.
Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge described it as the “biggest win” of Tiafoe’s career, with Jelena Dokic praising the American for an “incredible” performance.
Tiafoe, who has made the last 16 for the third successive year, won 12 of 16 first-serve points while hitting 14 winners and nine unforced errors on his way to taking the opening set 6-4.
It was hardly unfamiliar territory for Nadal though, being the third time in four matches at the US Open that he had dropped the opening set.
There was an early injury concern for Nadal though, who went off the court and took an eight-minute injury timeout between the first set ending and second starting to get taping done on his wrist.
The injury did not seem to be holding Nadal back though as the Spaniard responded to take the second set 6-4, breaking Tiafoe for the first the American though refused to go away and scored a crucial break in the third, using his backhand well to go up 4-3 before taking the set 6-4.
Tiafoe won 15 of 26 first-serve points in the third set while hitting 13 winners to Nadal’s seven and firing five aces to the Spaniard’s two.
Nadal, who boasts a 22-0 record in Grand Slams this year, broke Tiafoe early to gain the advantage in the third as frustrations threatened to boil over for the American.
Tiafoe was at one point given an audible obscenity warning for complaining about the roof closing while he was serving.
But he regained his composure and then broke right back before saving two break points to level it at 3-3 in the fourth set.