Meet the 22-year-old hot shot who ousted two-time champion Rafael Nadal from the US Open

France’s Pouille.
France’s Pouille.
Image: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki
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We’re right in the middle of the US Open, the last of the four grand slam tournaments each year. In one of the most notable moments of the tournament so far, Spain’s Rafael Nadal is not among the high-profile players advancing.

Nadal, 30, currently ranked fifth in the world and seeded fourth for this tournament, was defeated in a dramatic five-set match lasting more than four hours on Sunday (Sept. 4) by Lucas Pouille of France, who is ranked 24th in the world. Nadal won the US Open in 2010 and 2013, and has a total of 14 grand slam titles.

Pouille, 22, is relatively new to the circuit. He turned pro just four years ago in 2012, and entered the French Open as an unranked wild card in 2013, where he lost in the second round. This year, though, he advanced to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon—the farthest he had ever made it previously in a grand slam tournament—which gave him an all-time high ranking of 21.

Before playing Pouille, Nadal had only lost 20 individual games in the US Open. But the champion has had a slow start to his tournament play this year. He was eliminated in the first round of the Australian Open this past year, and a wrist injury forced him to drop out of the French Open before the third round and forgo Wimbledon altogether.

Pouille took Nadal to four separate match points before finally securing the match in a fifth set tie-break, with set scores of 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6). He will play France’s Gaël Monfils in the quarterfinals. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, also from France, will be playing in the quarterfinals as well, against Novak Djokovic from Serbia. Match times have yet to be confirmed.

“This is my first match on the center court against Rafa [Nadal], so I couldn’t dream better than this,” Pouille said on the court after the match.