“How do you analyze your performance of the day, a prestigious victory against Rafael Nadal in the round of 16 of the US Open?
A great performance! I played very well today (Monday). I came onto the court knowing I could do it. I’m a different player than the one who faced him twice (in Melbourne and Madrid in 2019, two victories for Nadal). I saw all these young people managing to beat Rafa, Fed or Novak. I said to myself: will I be able to say one day that I beat one of these guys? Today, I said to myself: I will do it. It’s something I can tell my children and my grandchildren: Yes, I beat Rafa. Hopefully I won’t play against him again to finish with a win (smile).
What were you thinking after match point?
I thought of nothing, I had the impression that time had stopped. For a minute, I couldn’t hear anything. I can’t even remember what I said to Rafa at the net. I was already in tears. I barely saw him, I barely saw my team. My heart was beating at 10,000 an hour, I had to sit down for a minute. I had never felt that in my entire life.
“A lot of guys are playing very well. I don’t think there will be a new Big 3, there will be a Big… 12! »
On the court, you mentioned your pride that your parents are present, in the stands. Can you tell your story and what this moment means to you?
I am a son of immigrants. My parents were born and raised in Sierra Leone. They came to the United States in the late 80s or early 90s. They met here and had my twin brother and me. My father was a cleaner, my mother a nurse, she had two jobs and worked nights. They met here, they had my twin brother and me. For us, tennis was a way to get out of the neighborhood. My father could watch us. It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.
My father thought it would be cool if tennis allowed us to obtain a university scholarship. We couldn’t afford to go to university so we used tennis. And then we started seeing Serena and Venus (Williams) compete in Grand Slam finals. I said to myself: it would be cool to play at Wimbledon, to play on the Arthur-Ashe. I had a huge passion for this sport. The fact that they saw me beat Rafa Nadal… I can’t imagine what was going through their minds. They will remember it all their life.
Did you see LeBron James’ tweet?
Dude ! I was like crazy in the locker room seeing that. He’s my sure guy. I said to myself: OK, I’m going to act as if I hadn’t seen anything. I waited three hours to retweet. He knows I’m a big fan. I also got a message from Rich Paul, that’s super cool. I’m a Wizards fan. Bradley Beal was there. It was his first tennis match. We talked after the game. He wants to come back. It was a special day for me.
For various reasons, the Big 3 is absent from the quarter-finals. They will soon be gone. How do you imagine the sequel without them?
How many years have we been saying that? (smile) What Nick (Kyrgios) plays very well, it’s great for tennis. Whether he plays singles or doubles, he fills the stadiums. Alcaraz has a great personality. Sinner. Me. I get a lot of support. Americans Tommy (Paul), Fritz… A lot of guys play very well. I don’t think there will be a new Big 3, there will be a Big… 12! It’s good to see a new generation appear. »