For the first time in 12 years, tennis star Rafael Nadal has failed to reach a quarterfinal in one of the four Grand Slams. The 30-year-old was beaten in five sets by 22-year-old Lucas Pouille in New York.
In the US Open’s best match so far, Rafael Nadal was beaten by 24th-seeded Lucas Pouille of France 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6) in a four-hour match ending on Sunday evening in New York.
“My first match on the center court against Rafa,” Pouille said in his on-court interview. “Yeah, I could not dream better than this.”
In a close match, Nadal made some uncharacteristic errors, especially off his forehand. “I couldn’t believe he would miss it,” Pouille said of a key shot in the final set tiebreaker. “But he’s like every player. He feels the pressure, as well. Even if he’s one of the best, he feels the pressure.”
“There were things I could do better. Had the right attitude. I [fought] right up to the last ball,” Nadal said after the match. “But I needed something else. I needed something more that was not there today.” In terms of overall points, the match could not have been closer: both men finished with 156 points.
Pouille had never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal until Wimbledon this year. He has played three consecutive five-set matches in New York to advance to his second consecutive major quarterfinal.
“I wanted to take my chance to be very aggressive, try to play with my forehand, and so that’s what I did at the [last] match point,” Pouille said.
Pouille’s win puts three men from France into the quarterfinals of US Open for the first time in 89 years. He joins ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 10th ranked Gael Monfils who also had fourth-round victories Sunday. Pouille and Monfils will play each other for a place in the semifinals.
Nadal won the US Open in 2010 and 2013 among the 14 Grand Slam single titles – mainly in Paris – in his career. But since losing in last year’s French Open quarterfinals, Nadal has failed to make it beyond the fourth round at a major.
Earlier this year, he lost in the first round of the Australian Open and withdrew in the second round of the French Open at Roland Garros due to a wrist injury.
The same problem prevented him playing at Wimbledon but he did compete at the Rio Summer Olympics last month, reaching the semifinals in singles and winning the doubles with Marc Lopez.
Wins for Kerber, Wozniacki
There was also a win for German player Angelique Kerber, who beat Czech Petra Kvitova 6-3 7-5 in the Sunday night match. Earlier, two-time US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki beat eighth-seeded American Madison Keys 6-3 6-4, Anastasija Sevastova defeated Johanna Konta 6-4 7-5 and Roberta Vinci won against Lesia Tsurenko 7-6 6-2.
In the women’s quarterfinals, second-seed Kerber will play 2015 runner-up Vinci, while Wozniacki will play 48th-ranked Sevastova of Latvia.
jm/cmk (Reuters, AP, AFP)