Spanish star Rafael Nadal courageously played through injury in the 2016 Rio Olympics as well as in the Cincinnati Masters to prepare for the 2016 U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Unfortunately, his efforts have been thwarted by Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who staged an upset in the fourth round with a five-set thriller.
Lucas Pouille defeated Rafael Nadal after a four-hour long match with the score ending at 6-1 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 (8-6). BBC reports that the Frenchman narrowly escaped defeat in the final set, where he needed to recover from a break point down at 4-2.
The thrilling conclusion to the match was pushed to a tie break. It could have gone in either direction. Pouille needed to pull out all of his reserved energy in order to finally convert his fourth match point. “It took everything. I could not dream better than that,” he said.
The 22-year-old Pouille faced Nadal only a year ago in Monaco. On that occasion, he was thrashed by the Spaniard in an easy straight sets victory. Pouille has since risen up the rankings to 25th in the world. However, it is still a big upset against one of the game’s legends. Nadal has now endured one of his worst seasons since 2004 after failing to reach any Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Nadal had been playing with an injured wrist since the French Open earlier this year. He took over two months off before returning to compete in the Olympics. He is still recovering, but believes that he needs to be back in active duty.
Lucas Pouille is now set to face his countryman Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, is waiting for the winner of the clash between Novak Djokovic and Kyle Edmund. Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray is at the other side of the U.S. Open draw.