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A great day at the US Open Tennis for Frances Tiafoe: Beats Rafael Nadal, gets congratulated by LeBron James

Frances Tiafoe of the United States celebrates after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain at the US Open. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

It was a day that Frances Tiafoe will remember forever.

Playing in front of the home crowd in the biggest stadium in tennis, the 24-year-old American stunned Rafael Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Monday afternoon at the U.S. Open. It marked Tiafoe’s first-ever win over any member of the Big 3 and sent him through to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows for the first time in his career.

“I felt like the world stopped,” the world No. 26 said of his reaction when he clinched victory. “I couldn’t hear anything for a minute. Even shaking his hand, I don’t even know what I said to him. It was such a blur. I was already tearing (up). I could barely see him and my team. Everyone was up. It was just wild. My heart is going a thousand miles an hour. I was so excited. I was like, ‘Let me sit down.’

“Yeah, I’ve never felt something like that in my life, honestly.”

The day kept getting better and better for Tiafoe, too.

A huge NBA fan, Tiafoe had Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal in his player box (Tiafoe is from just outside Washington, D.C.). Beal wasn’t the only NBA player watching Monday’s fourth-round showdown. The most famous player of all was also tuning in–albeit from the television as opposed to in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Man, I was losing it in the locker room,” Tiafoe responded when asked if he saw James’ tweet. “Bro, I was going crazy. That’s my guy. So to see him post that, I was like, ‘Do I retweet it as soon as he sent it?’ I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to be cool and act like I didn’t see it and then retweet it three hours later.’ Obviously he knows I’m a big fan of his.

“(I) got a text from Rich Paul (James’ agent), as well. That’s super cool. The fact they’re watching right now…it’s a perfect time. The U.S. Open is always (at) a perfect time because there’s no real sports really going on. People can focus on tennis, which is great.”

The focus could be on Tiafoe for a while longer, because the draw–his and everyone else’s–is totally wide open. Not a single quarterfinalist has ever won a Grand Slam title. The No. 22 seed will face Andrey Rublev on Wednesday and would then meet either Carlos Alcaraz or Jannik Sinner in the semis before going up against either Casper Ruud, Matteo Berrettini, Nick Kyrgios, or Karen Khachanov in the final.

“Everyone is looking at [the draw],” Tiafoe assured. “Everyone looks at it like, ‘Here we go.’ So am I. Slams…crazy things can happen–especially here in New York.”

They certainly did on Monday.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.