NEW YORK (AP) — Frances Tiafoe’s vision was blurry from the tears. He was thrilled — overwhelmed, even — when the last point was over and it hit him that, yes, he had ended Rafael Nadal’s 22-match Grand Slam winning streak Monday and reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time.
“I felt like the world stopped,” Tiafoe said. “I couldn’t hear anything for a minute.”
Then Tiafoe found himself “losing it in the locker room” when he saw that NBA superstar LeBron James gave him a Twitter shoutout.
“Bro,” Tiafoe said, “I was going crazy.”
What meant the most to Tiafoe about his 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over 22-time major champion Nadal in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows, though, was looking up in his Arthur Ashe Stadium guest box and knowing his parents, Constant and Alphina, were there.
“To see them experience me beat Rafa Nadal — they’ve seen me have big wins, but to beat those ‘Mount Rushmore’ guys? For them, I can’t imagine what was going through their heads,” said Tiafoe, a 24-year-old American seeded 22nd at the U.S. Open. “I mean, they’re going to remember today for the rest of their lives.”
His parents both emigrated to the United States from Sierra Leone in West Africa amid its civil war in the 1990s. They ended up in Maryland, where Constant helped construct a tennis training center for juniors, then became a maintenance man there; Alphina, Frances said, was “a nurse, working two jobs, working overtime through the nights.” Frances and his twin brother, Franklin, were born in 1998, and soon would be spending hour upon hour where Dad’s job was, rackets in hand.
Maybe one day, went the dream, a college scholarship would come of it.
“It wasn’t anything supposed to be like this,” Tiafoe said Monday evening, hours after by far his biggest victory.
He is the youngest American man to get this far at the U.S. Open since Andy Roddick in 2006, but this was not a case of a one-sided crowd backing one of its own. Nadal is about as popular as it gets in tennis and heard plenty of support as the volume raised after the retractable roof was shut in the fourth set.
“It’s something to tell the kids, the grandkids: ‘Yeah, I beat Rafa,’” Tiafoe said with a big smile.
He served better than No. 2 seed Nadal. More surprisingly, he returned better, too. And he kept his cool, remained in the moment and never let the stakes or the opponent get to him. Nadal, a 36-year-old from Spain, had won both of their previous matches, and every set they played, too.
“Well, the difference is easy: I played a bad match and he played a good match,” Nadal said. “At the end that’s it.”
This surprise came a day after Tiafoe followed along on TV as his pal Nick Kyrgios “put on a show” and eliminated No. 1 seed and defending champion Daniil Medvedev. That makes this the first U.S. Open without either of the top two seeded men reaching the quarterfinals since 2000, when No. 1 Andre Agassi exited in the second round and No. 2 Gustavo Kuerten in the first.
That was before Nadal, Novak Djokovic, who has 21 Grand Slam titles, and Roger Federer, who has 20, began dominating men’s tennis. Djokovic, 35, did not enter this U.S. Open because is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and was not allowed to enter the United States; Federer, 41, has undergone a series of operations on his right knee and last played at Wimbledon last year.
Now come the inevitable questions about whether their era of excellence is wrapping up.
“It signifies that the years go by,” Nadal said. “It’s the circle of life.”
Tiafoe now meets No. 9 Andrey Rublev, who beat No. 7 Cam Norrie 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 earlier Monday.
No. 11 Jannik Sinner rallied from two games down in the fifth set to beat Ilya Ivashka 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. The last match on Monday’s schedule was 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic against No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz.
The No. 1 woman, Iga Swiatek, moved into her first quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows by coming back to beat Jule Neiemeier 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.
“I’m just proud,” Swiatek said, “that I didn’t lose hope.”
The 21-year-old from Poland will face another first-time U.S. Open quarterfinalist: No. 8 Jessica Pegula, the highest-ranked American woman, who advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.
Another women’s quarterfinal will be two-time major finalist Karolina Pliskova against No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka.
Nadal won the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June. Then he made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon in July before withdrawing from that tournament because of a torn abdominal muscle.
Nadal competed only once in the 1 1/2 months between leaving the All England Club and arriving in New York, where he has won four trophies.
He tweaked his service motion, tossing the ball lower than he normally does so as not to put as much strain on his midsection. There were plenty of signs Monday that his serve was not in tip-top shape: nine double-faults, a first-serve percentage hovering around 50%, five breaks by Tiafoe.
Earlier in the tournament, he lost the first set of his first-round match. Did the same in the second round, when he also accidentally cut the bridge of his nose and made himself dizzy when the edge of his racket frame bounced off the court and caught him in the face.
Still, on Monday, Nadal appeared on the verge of turning things around when he broke early in the fourth set and went ahead 3-1.
Tiafoe told himself: “Stay in it. Stay with him.”
That’s tied to two key areas Tiafoe credits with helping make him a stronger player of late: an improved in-match mindset and a commitment to fitness.
“Rafa is there every point. I’ve been known to have some dips in my game at times, where it’s like you’re watching (and thinking), ‘What’s that?!’” Tiafoe said. “That was my thing, match intensity.”
No concern now: He grabbed the last five games. The next-to-last break came for a 4-3 edge in the fourth set, when Nadal put a backhand into the net, and Tiafoe skipped backward toward the sideline for the ensuing changeover, his fist raised.
Fifteen minutes later, Tiafoe broke again, and it was over. This represents the latest significant step forward for Tiafoe, whose only previous trip to a Grand Slam quarterfinal came at the 2019 Australian Open — and ended with a loss to Nadal.
When one last backhand by Nadal found the net, Tiafoe chucked his racket and put his hands on his head. He glanced into the stands — Mom, Dad, brother, girlfriend, Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal, others — then sat in his sideline chair and buried his face in a towel.
“It was just wild. My heart is going a thousand miles an hour. I was so excited. I was like: Let me sit down,” Tiafoe said. “Yeah, I’ve never felt something like that in my life, honestly.”
More AP coverage of U.S. Open tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/us-open-tennis-championships and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Lawyers for the US tell a UK court why WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange should face spying charges
LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange won’t find out until next month at the earliest whether he can challenge extradition to the U.S. on spying charges, or if his long legal battle in Britain has run out of road.
Two High Court judges said Wednesday they would take time to consider their verdict after a two-day hearing in which Assange’s lawyers argued sending him to the United States would risk a “flagrant denial of justice.”
Attorneys for the U.S., where Assange has been indicted on espionage charges, said he put innocent lives at risk and went beyond journalism in his bid to solicit, steal and indiscriminately publish classified U.S. government documents.
Assange’s lawyers asked the High Court to grant him a new appeal — his last roll of the legal dice in the saga that has kept him in a British high-security prison for the past five years.
The judges overseeing the case reserved their decision, and a ruling on Assange’s future is not expected until March at the earliest.
If judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson rule against Assange, he can ask the European Court of Human Rights to block his extradition — though supporters worry he could be put on a plane to the U.S. before that happens, because the British government has already signed an extradition order.
The 52-year-old Australian has been indicted on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse over his website’s publication of a trove of classified U.S. documents almost 15 years ago. American prosecutors allege Assange encouraged and helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks published, putting lives at risk.
Lawyer Clair Dobbin, representing the U.S. government, said Wednesday that Assange damaged U.S. security and intelligence services and “created a grave and imminent risk” by releasing the hundreds of thousands of documents — risks that could harm and lead to the arbitrary detention of innocent people, many of whom lived in war zones or under repressive regimes.
Dobbin added that in encouraging Manning and others to hack into government computers and steal from them, Assange was “going a very considerable way beyond” a journalist gathering information.
Assange was “not someone who has just set up an online box to which people can provide classified information,” she said. “The allegations are that he sought to encourage theft and hacking that would benefit WikiLeaks.”
Assange’s supporters maintain he is a secrecy-busting journalist who exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have long argued that the prosecution is politically motivated and he won’t get a fair trial in the U.S.
Assange’s lawyers argued on the first day of the hearing on Tuesday that American authorities are seeking to punish him for WikiLeaks’ “exposure of criminality on the part of the U.S. government on an unprecedented scale,” including torture and killings.
Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said there is “a real risk he may suffer a flagrant denial of justice” if he is sent to the U.S.
Dobbin said the prosecution is based on law and evidence, and has remained consistent despite the changes of government in the U.S. during the legal battle.
She added that the First Amendment does not confer immunity on journalists who break the law. Media outlets that went through the process of redacting the documents before publishing them are not being prosecuted, she said.
Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted, though American authorities have said the sentence is likely to be much shorter.
Assange was absent from court on both days because he is unwell, WikiLeaks said. Stella Assange, his wife, said he had wanted to attend, but was “not in good condition.”
Assange’s family and supporters say his physical and mental health have suffered during more than a decade of legal battles, including seven years in self-exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
“Julian is a political prisoner and he has to be released,” said Stella Assange, who married the WikiLeaks founder in prison in 2022.
“They’re putting Julian into the hands of the country and of the people who plotted his assassination,” she added, referring to unproven claims by Assange’s lawyers that he was a target of a CIA plot to kidnap or kill him while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Supporters holding “Free Julian Assange” signs and chanting “there is only one decision — no extradition” protested outside the High Court building for a second day.
Assange’s legal troubles began in 2010, when he was arrested in London at the request of Sweden, which wanted to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women. In 2012, Assange jumped bail and sought refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy.
The relationship between Assange and his hosts eventually soured, and he was evicted from the embassy in April 2019. British police immediately arrested and imprisoned him for breaching bail in 2012. Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed.
A U.K. district court judge rejected the U.S. extradition request in 2021 on the grounds that Assange was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions. Higher courts overturned that decision after getting assurances from the U.S. about his treatment. The British government signed an extradition order in June 2022.
Meanwhile, the Australian parliament last week called for Assange to be allowed to return to his homeland.
Andrew Wilkie, an Australian lawmaker who attended the hearing, said he hoped that sent a strong message to the U.K. and U.S. governments to end the legal fight. “This has gone on long enough,” he said.
Associated Press video journalists Kwiyeon Ha and Jo Kearney contributed to this report.
Biden to create cybersecurity standards for nation’s ports as concerns grow over vulnerabilities
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order and created a federal rule aimed at better securing the nation’s ports from potential cyberattacks.
The administration is outlining a set of cybersecurity regulations that port operators must comply with across the country, not unlike standardized safety regulations that seek to prevent injury or damage to people and infrastructure.
“We want to ensure there are similar requirements for cyber, when a cyberattack can cause just as much if not more damage than a storm or another physical threat,” said Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser at the White House.
Nationwide, ports employ roughly 31 million people and contribute $5.4 trillion to the economy, and could be left vulnerable to a ransomware or other brand of cyberattack, Neuberger said. The standardized set of requirements is designed to help protect against that.
The new requirements are part of the federal government’s focus on modernizing how critical infrastructure like power grids, ports and pipelines are protected as they are increasingly managed and controlled online, often remotely. There is no set of nationwide standards that govern how operators should protect against potential attacks online.
The threat continues to grow. Hostile activity in cyberspace — from spying to the planting of malware to infect and disrupt a country’s infrastructure — has become a hallmark of modern geopolitical rivalry.
For example, in 2021, the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline had to temporarily halt operations after it fell victim to a ransomware attack in which hackers hold a victim’s data or device hostage in exchange for money. The company, Colonial Pipeline, paid $4.4 million to a Russia-based hacker group, though Justice Department officials later recovered much of the money.
Ports, too, are vulnerable. In Australia last year, a cyber incident forced one of the country’s largest port operators to suspend operations for three days.
In the U.S., roughly 80% of the giant cranes used to lift and haul cargo off ships onto U.S. docks come from China, and are controlled remotely, said Admiral John Vann, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s cyber command. That leaves them vulnerable to attack, he said.
Late last month, U.S. officials said they had disrupted a state-backed Chinese effort to plant malware that could be used to damage civilian infrastructure. Vann said this type of potential attack was a concern as officials pushed for new standards, but they are also worried about the possibility for criminal activity.
The new standards, which will be subject to a public comment period, will be required for any port operator and there will be enforcement actions for failing to comply with the standards, though the officials did not outline them. They require port operators to notify authorities when they have been victimized by a cyberattack. The actions also give the Coast Guard, which regulates the nation’s ports, the ability to respond to cyberattacks.
Jill Biden is announcing $100 million in funding for research and development into women’s health
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden on Wednesday announced $100 million in federal funding for research and development into women’s health as part of a new White House initiative that she is heading up.
The money is the first major deliverable of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, which was announced late last year. The money comes from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, which is under the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
The first lady announced the ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health during an appearance in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Biden has said women don’t know enough about their health because the research historically has been underfunded and lacking. The White House initiative aims to change the approach to and increase funding for women’s health research.
The $100 million will be used to invest early in “life-changing” work being done by women’s health researchers and startup companies that cannot get private support, Biden said.
“We will build a health care system that puts women and their lived experiences at its center,” she said. “Where no woman or girl has to hear that ‘it’s all in your head,’ or, ‘it’s just stress.’” Where women aren’t just an after-thought, but a first-thought. Where women don’t just survive with chronic conditions, but lead long and healthy lives.”
President Joe Biden created the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health in 2022 to work on advancing solutions to health issues. The agency is part of what he called his “ unity agenda.”
In the coming weeks, the agency will solicit ideas for groundbreaking research and development to address women’s health, according to the White House.
The first lady said last year when the White House initiative was announced in November that it grew out of meeting she had had with Maria Shriver, a women’s health advocate and former California first lady. Shriver, Biden said, spoke of the need for a public-private effort to close the gaps in women’s health research. Shriver also participated in Wednesday’s announcement in Massachusetts.
The White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research is led by Jill Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council.