Rafa Nadal's tennis future is in doubt after his shock defeat at the US Open at the hands of Frances Tiafoe, but his coach Carlos Moya has shed more light on the Spaniard's goals.
The tennis world was stunned after Tiafoe pulled off an impressive 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 upset over Nadal, seriously denting the 36-year-old's hopes of regaining the world No.1 ranking.
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Nadal previously held the top ranking in early 2020, before sliding down as far as sixth as he dealt with a series of injury issues throughout 2020 and 2021.
He made an outstanding grand slam comeback in 2022, winning the Australian Open and the French Open to mount a serious charge towards the top of the rankings once more.
A deep run at the US Open would have put him in serious contention to regain the top spot, however it is uncertain when he will actually play again after his comments following his loss to Tiafoe, which ended the Spaniard's 22-match grand slam winning streak.
"I going to try to be ready mentally," he said after ths US Open upset.
"When I feel that I will be ready to compete again, I will be there."
Nadal's scintillating form in 2022, marred only by his withdrawal from the Wimbledon semi-final due to injury, had fans excited for a potential tilt at regaining the top spot.
However since the loss to Tiafoe, coach Moya has poured cold water on the idea that Nadal had ambitions to reach the top rank before his retirement from the sport.
“Being number one again has a lot of value; ending the year at the top of the rankings, even more so,” Moya told the ATP.
“If you look at his schedule, it’s clear that it’s not a goal.
"The most important thing for him is looking after his body and being well for the Grand Slams. But if it’s put in front of him, of course we’ll go for it.”
Nadal will now travel back to Spain, with some believing he could be in doubt for the Laver Cup, which is coming up in London later this month.
The No.1 ranking isn't actually out of reach for Nadal, but is incumbent on neither Carlos Alcaraz or Casper Ruud making it to the US Open final.
Rafael Nadal's plans unclear after shock US Open defeat
Tiafoe ended Nadal's hopes of a 23rd slam in a three-hour 34-minute triumph.
The victory represents the latest significant step forward for the 24-year-old Tiafoe, whose only previous trip to the last eight at a major came at the 2019 Australian Open, and ended with a loss to Nadal.
"I don't even know what to say right now. I'm beyond happy. I can't believe it," Tiafoe said.
"He's one of the greatest of all time. I played unbelievable tennis today, but I don't even know what happened."
Tiafoe is the youngest American man to get that far in New York since Andy Roddick in 2006, and his win left the US Open without its top men's seeds in the quarter-finals since 2000, when No.1 Andre Agassi exited in the second round and No.2 Gustavo Kuerten in the first.
"When I first came on the scene, a lot of people had limitations on what I would do ... I wasn't 'ready for it mentally.' I wasn't 'mature,'" Tiafoe said.
But these days, he added, "I'm able to just do me and do it my way and enjoy the game I love."
The 36-year-old competed only once in the six weeks between leaving the All England Club and arriving in New York while recovering from the abdominal injury which forced him to withdraw from his Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.
His play has not been up to his usual standards at the US Open, which he has won four times.
"Well done for him," the Spaniard said.
"He was better than me ... At the end that's it."
Now come the inevitable questions about whether the era of Nadal and non-starters Novak Djokovic (not vaccinated against COVID-19) and Roger Federer (recovering from knee surgery) is wrapping up.
"It signifies that the years go on," Nadal said.
"It's the natural cycle of life."
Tiafoe will face ninth seed Andrey Rublev in the last eight after the Russian scored a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over seventh-seeded Brit Cameron Norrie.
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