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Rafael Nadal pats the back of Frances Tiafoe, in his first major championship quarter-final, on Tuesday night at the Australian Open.

Tiafoe: 'I Didn't Know This Was Going To Happen'

Young American impressed by Nadal's intensity

#NextGenATP star Frances Tiafoe’s dream run at the Australian Open came to an end on Tuesday night, but the American has learned a lot from the experience and plans to continue his climb up the ATP Rankings.

Speaking after his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 loss to 2009 champion Rafael Nadal, Tiafoe admitted, “It's crazy. I didn't think any of this was going to happen. If you would have asked me during the off-season, ‘You're going to play Rafa in the quarter-finals on Rod Laver [Arena] with Rod Laver watching’, I probably would have laughed. It's unbelievable. I'm just happy this didn't happen on my birthday. But to be in a quarter-final at a [Grand] Slam, knowing I can do this, that's the biggest thing.”

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The 20-year-old will rise to a career-high No. 30 on Monday, when the new ATP Rankings are published, but insists he’ll target new goals this year.

“I'm definitely still on the come up,” said Tiafoe. “I don't know when I want to say it, when I got to say the come up's over. Such a good hashtag, flows so well. That day's definitely coming… It is definitely coming. I guess you’ve just got to wait for the Instagram post when it comes up.”

Tiafoe, who beat fifth seed Kevin Anderson and No. 20 seed Grigor Dimitrov en route to the quarter-finals, was full of praise for Nadal.

“I knew he was going to bring crazy intensity, I knew the ball was going to be jumping," said Tiafoe. "I knew if he got hold of a forehand, it was going to be barbecued chicken.

“But point-in, point-out, I've never seen someone so locked in. I think that's what I take from him. I think that's what I've been able to put in my game a little bit, playing [fewer] loose points. [I’m] still not as tight as him. That's what you saw in certain situations today.”

Tiafoe is now 4-2 on the season, having started his campaign at the Sydney International.

Tennis Radio

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