US Open – Notebook 6: “Monster Tiafoe”, Nadal’s digestion, Alcaraz’s solidity and Tomljanovic’s dream

Frances Tiafoe signed the best win of her career by sending Rafael Nadal on the ropes. The American makes the Big Apple tremble, just like Carlos Alcaraz, whose relaxation is an asset. In the women’s world number 1, Iga Swiatek, does not convince, but still fits and AJla Tomljanovic dreams big. The US Open is finally getting exciting.

MONSTROUS TIAFOE! Confirming his label as the immense hope of American tennis, he nearly beat Roger Federer in the first round of the US Open in 2017, even as Basel was enjoying its second golden age. Five years later, Frances Tiafoe has done much better than that by confusing Rafael Nadal in 4 rounds, even as the Spaniard was about to return to the world throne. That feeling, that big excitement as they say in Flushing, didn’t fall from the sky. Despite a relative quality of service, the beefy man from Maryland, who had never taken a sentence from “Rafa” before, went to him by boldly playing his luck, being aggressive, in short, by provoking fate without ever exaggerating. Very solid!

NADAL DID NOT DIGESTION… Rafael Nadal did not digest this defeat. From the handshake we sensed the Spaniard’s frustration, broadly dominated by the tactical intelligence and punching power of his 12-year-old junior. However, after winning the 2nd set, all of Flushing thought it was finally going to be a classic match for the former world No. 1, but in reality he never managed to go any further in that match. His level of play remained below his standards, which was also “helped” by the quality of Tiafoe. “I played badly and he played well, that’s allnoted Nadal. My understanding of the game and the quality of my shots were not good enough…“But the man with 22 major titles will be able to move on quickly, because the best thing awaits him: the birth of his first child at the end of October.

THE STAND… The last time a Grand Slam had quarterfinals without Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer dates back to… 2003 (US Open).

RUBLEV FRONT GLASS CEILING… Andrey Rublev, who is sometimes criticized for his propensity to fail at Grand Slams, didn’t tremble against Cameron Norrie (6-4 6-4 6-4), thereby qualifying for his 6th quarterfinal in “Major”, the 3. Open at the US (which isn’t nothing). Can the Russians break through the glass ceiling? He would like to believe it, especially since instead of Rafael Nadal, he will face Frances Tiafoe on Wednesday. Not saying that the mission will be more obvious… Note that another redhead is in the quarterfinals: Jannik Sinner. Despite being pushed to the limit by an amazing Ilya Ivashka, the Italian could be patient and realistic to pass the shoulder (6-1 5-7 6-2 4-6 6-3).

ALCARAZ, THE “SURVIVOR”… Carlos Alcaraz started an all hazards 5th set against Marin Cilic after missing several opportunities to finally take off in the 4th round. Carlos Alcaraz was still successful afford the Croatians (6-4 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-3). This proves – if it has to be – that the young Spaniard is made of different stuff. Where so many others would have exploded, he held his line, sometimes “laying” a little more. Better, we even saw him smile after waffle shots. This looseness, combined with a constant seriousness, is a valuable asset. He will have to take revenge on Sinner, his Wimbledon henchman.

LET’S GO AJLA! Ajla Tomljanovic is having her best Grand Slam season at the age of 29. A quarter-finalist at Wimbledon, where only future winner Elena Rybakina could stop her, the Australian brilliantly reached the quarter-finals of this US Open, where she particularly distinguished herself by ending (a priori) the career of Serena Williams. Behind this victory, the player of Croatian origin held her ground in front of Liudmila Samsonova. What if the fairy tale continued? The answer lies partly in the hands of Ons Jabeur.

REVOILA PEGULA! The daughter of billionaires, Jessica Pegula never really needed tennis in her life. But because she was slightly more talented than average, the 28-year-old American has prevailed and is now enjoying her best season. With 8 participations by the end of 2020, she never got past a 3rd round in the Grand Slam, she first reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open 2021, then she made it again this year in Melbourne and Roland-Garros. Not bad, right? Yes, but since that’s not enough for her, the New York native is in the same phase at Flushing Meadows for the first time in her career thanks to a quick win over Petra Kvitova (6-3, 6-2).

PLISKOVAS “OUF”… While Iga Swiatek blew the wind, Karolina Pliskova put on a strong performance to defeat Victoria Azarenka (7-5 ​​​​6-7 6-2). A victory that changes a lot for the Czech. “So far I thought my 2022 season was a disasterstarted the ex-no. 1 WTA. Now I can at least say that it wasn’t that much after all…“It’s good to take before fighting Aryna Sabalenka.

Arnaud Cerutti – @arnaud_cerutti

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