Rafael Nadal rival makes Serena Williams gesture with clothing item in US Open clash

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Frances Tiafoe paid tribute to Serena Williams as he took to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court for his US Open clash with Rafael Nadal. The American stepped out wearing the ‘GOAT’ hoodie made by her official Serena brand just days after the 23-time Grand Slam champion played her final match on the same court, losing to Ajla Tomljanovic in three sets.

Tiafoe is playing on the US Open’s main showcourt for the first time this tournament as he faces Nadal for a spot in the quarter-finals. And the 22nd seen took advantage of the opportunity to step onto tennis’ biggest stage as he arrived wearing Williams’ official ‘GOAT’ hoodie, paying a sweet tribute to the 40-year-old days after her career came to an end on the same court.

The 24-year-old has enjoyed a close relationship with the woman seen as the sport’s greatest of all time, even teaming up with her to represent Team USA in the 2019 Hopman Cup, where the pair faced Roger Federer in the doubles. And Tiafoe is tasked with taking on another top male player on Monday as he plays Nadal for the third time, having never won a set in their past two encounters.

Nadal and Federer themselves have often been the centre of the GOAT debate alongside Novak Djokovic, but the world No 26 shunned them all as he showed whose side he was on, representing the younger Williams sister during the walk-on.

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And it seems that Williams will likely be rooting for Tiafoe after he revealed that she wanted to see him succeed, sharing his experience of spending time with her. “Being able to share the court with her, being able to practice with her in the off-season She’s like, ‘Aren’t you coming over to the house? We have lunch,'” he said.

“She’s really taken me in. She just wants to see me do well.” And Tiafoe will have a tough task on his hands as he takes on another “Mount Rushmore” of the sport in Nadal. The Spaniard is bidding to win a 23rd Major title at the US Open – a record in men’s singles while Williams already holds 23 in the women’s side – and Tiafoe could help Williams remain as the only person to hold the record in the Open Era by sending Nadal packing.

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