US Open - Day 8: Tiafoe the showstopper, Swiatek and Alcaraz prevail

The lucky fans who were courtside at Flushing Meadows were treated to a memorable day of elite tennis at the 2022 US Open.

Frances Tiafoe / Huitièmes de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

It’s getting towards the business end of the 2022 US Open and a collection of players are rising to the occasion.

The top stars haven’t been the only players shining on centre stage in New York. Here is what you might have missed from a magic Monday.

Big Foe in dreamland


Prior to their battle, Frances Tiafoe was adamant he could defeat Rafael Nadal to inflict the Spaniard’s first Grand Slam defeat of the season.

“I'm definitely going to come after him,” insisted the American. Tiafoe well and truly kept to his word, outmuscling and outmanoeuvring the off-kilter 22-time Grand Slam champion 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Arthur Ashe Stadium. 

When Nadal stole the second set, when the Spaniard had the crowd on their feet following outrageous rallies at the start of set four, the sense was another archetypal Rafa comeback on the cards. Tiafoe had other ideas.  

“I felt like the world stopped,” revealed the world No.26, tears flowing after becoming the youngest American man to reach the US Open last eight since Andy Roddick in 2006. “It was definitely one hell of a performance. 

“For a while there, I was like, ‘Geez. You see all these young guys get Rafa, Fed, Novak. Am I ever going to be able to say I beat one of them? So now, it's something to tell the kids, the grandkids, Yeah, I beat Rafa.”

It’s the first Grand Slam since US Open 2003 which will be without the ‘Big 3’ or Serena Williams featuring in the quarter-finals!

For Nadal it’s time to recharge and reassess.

Rafael Nadal / Huitièmes de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“I was not able to hold a high level of tennis for a long time. Tennis is a sport of position a lot of times,” analysed the four-time US Open winner. “If not, you need to be very, very quick and very young. I am not in that moment anymore.

“I need to go back. I need to fix things, life, then I don't know when I going to come back. I going to try to be ready mentally. When I feel that I will be ready to compete again, I will be there.”

Tiafoe expects a “wild one if last year is any indication,” up against Andrey Rublev next. The home charge edged Rublev in five sets at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago, before the world No.11 gained revenge in straight sets at Indian Wells in March.

Alcaraz re-writing history again

In the early hours in New York, Carlos Alcaraz was cheering with his jubilant fans, taking a selfie video courtside.

Why? The Spanish teenage sensation had just escaped 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in a blockbuster against 2014 titlist Marin Cilic at 2:23am, just three-minutes shy of the latest ever finish in US Open records.

“Honestly, I don’t know how,” admitted the 19-year-old, the youngest man to reach back-to-back US Open quarter-finals since Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall in 1952/53.

“I believe in myself all the time. It was pretty tough at the beginning of the fifth set, a break down. Marin was playing unbelievable. But the support today in Arthur Ashe was crazy. It was tough for me to come back, to stay strong mentally.”

Alcaraz remains in the hunt to be crowned world No.1. On Sunday he could lift a maiden major and take the top spot, but first he must take out Jannik Sinner.

The Italian played some exquisite shots to inch past world No.73 Ilya Ivashka in five sets. The No.11 seed will be a serious threat, defeating Alcaraz in four sets at Wimbledon and in the Umag final, both in July.

Swiatek digs deep to deliver a bagel

Just at the same time that her idol Nadal was a set down to Tiafoe, world No.1 Iga Swiatek was also on the brink, with a set deficit and break point in favour of Jule Niemeier.

The top seed was playing very unlike the usual Swiatek, unable to find solutions to the German’s heavy artillery. The Pole was relieved to finally post a 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory.

“For sure this match gave me a lot because it's always nice to come back and kind of lean on that, that you can change something and play better, also make some adjustment during the game,” stated Roland-Garros champion.

“I feel more confident every match, but still I'm trying not to get my expectations too high because I know anything can happen. I don't want to overthink.”

Iga Swiatek / Huitièmes de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

In a light-hearted moment, Swiatek revealed she was aware her 19th 'bagel' 6-0 set of the season had caught the eye on social media.

“I saw on Twitter some count that is called like Iga Swiatek Bakery. That's pretty funny,” smiled the top seed.

“I'm not thinking about that during the match. Yeah, at the end we can laugh about it. During the match, it's just another game for me.”

Swiatek heads on to tackle American No.1 Jessica Pegula, where she can call upon straight sets wins during title runs in Miami and Roland-Garros in 2022.

Elsewhere, 2021 semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka is “still fighting for my dream,” having blazed past 19th seed Danielle Collins 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Sabalenka will move onto another contest bursting with power against former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova. The 2016 finalist edged three-time finalist Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2.

Day 9 in the diary

First up on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Casper Ruud is also in contention to finish the US Open as world No.1. However, standing in his way is 13th seed Matteo Berrettini. The towering Italian enjoyed a straight-sets scoreline in their only previous hard court duel at the 2020 US Open.

They are followed onto court by No.5 seed Ons Jabeur striving for more history over the net from Australia’s soaring star Ajla Tomljanovic.

The night session welcomes the prime-time teenage sensation Coco Gauff on home courts taking on the incredible recent form of Cincinnati champion Caroline Garcia.

How about this to close the night session? Nick Kyrgios, who sent world No.1 Daniil Medvedev out, will have his title credentials tested by the 27th seed Karen Khachanov.