Tennis player Frances Tiafoe has reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time by ending Rafael Nadal's 22-match Grand Slam-winning streak on Monday, reports ESPN. He's the youngest American man to advance this far in the U.S. Open since Andy Roddick in 2006.
"I felt like the world stopped," Tiafoe said in an interview after his win. "I couldn't hear anything for a minute. It's something to tell the kids, the grandkids: 'Yeah, I beat Rafa.”
In a match that lasted over 3 hours and 30 minutes, Tiafoe defeated No. 2 seed Nadal, who is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, in four sets—6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3—in the fourth round at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York.
The road that led to Tiafoe making history on the biggest stage in tennis was paved by the sacrifices of his parents, Constant and Alphina Tiafoe, who migrated to the United States from Sierra Leone during ithe West African country's civil war in the 1990s. Eventually, they settled in Maryland where Constant helped build a tennis training center for juniors and worked in maintenance at the facility. Tiafoe said his mother was "a nurse, working two jobs, working overtime through the nights." He, along with his twin brother Franklin, spent hours at his dad's job where they had access to rackets and balls.
He was proud to have his parents experience his greatest victory to date in person.
"To see them experience me beat Rafa Nadal—they've seen me have big wins, but to beat those Mount Rushmore guys?" said Tiafoe about his parents who were seated in the guest box. "For them, I can't imagine what was going through their heads. I mean, they're going to remember today for the rest of their lives."
Nadal, who's won a record 22 Grand Slam titles, was disappointed by his performance.
"Well, the difference is easy. I played a bad match, and he played a good match," Nadal said. "At the end, that's it."
Tiafoe is set to face No. 9 Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.