22-year-old Frenchman Lucas Pouille ousted 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal from the U.S. Open in the fourth round Sunday in a five-set classic that needed a tiebreak to separate the two players. Pouille was a break down at one point in the fifth set, but he rallied to win the biggest match of his career with a brilliant forehand that Nadal couldn’t chase down.
For the 30-year-old Nadal, who just won a gold medal in doubles last month, the loss snaps a stunning 12-year run of making the quarterfinals in at least one Grand Slam. Since his first French Open title in 2005, Nadal has made a total of 20 Grand Slam finals (posting a sensational 14-6 record in those matches), and the Spaniard had advanced to at least two quarterfinals every year since 2006.
His 2016 Grand Slam season opened with a first-round exit in Melbourne at the hands of Fernando Verdasco, who bested Nadal in five sets. In Paris, Nadal was forced to withdraw from the French Open with a wrist injury in the fourth round, which also kept him from playing later that summer at Wimbledon.