Nadal overcomes Fognini and racket to his own nose and remains alive at the US Open – 02/09/2022

Rafael Nadal and Fabio Fognini they have certainly had better duels than this Thursday’s, valid for second round of US open. In this 18th meeting, Spanish and Italian fluctuated a lot and made more mistakes than expected. In the beginning, it was Rafa who piled up mistakes. Then it was Fabio’s turn to level up. In the end, they both added up 90+ unforced errors, and Nadal even suffered a cut to his nose when he was accidentally bumped by his own racket. The former world number 1, however, managed the night better and triumphed for 2/6, 6/4, 6/2 and 6/1, advancing to the third round of the New York tournament.

The win means Nadal remains undefeated in Grand Slam tournaments this year. Australian Open and Roland Garros champion, Rafa reached the Wimbledon semifinals, but did not enter the court due to an abdominal injury. He now has 21 triumphs in this event type in 2022 and will then face Frenchman Richard Gasquet, your well-known customer. The two have already faced each other 17 times on the circuit, and Nadal has won them all. Gasquet hasn’t taken a set from his rival since 2008.

How did it happen

Fognini was the one who entered the court sharper, always trying to play close to the baseline and attacking when he had the chance. Nadal, in turn, started out of calibration. In the third game, he made three unforced errors with his forehand and missed the serve. In the seventh, he failed again. After missing a forehand and committing a double fault, he missed the serve and saw Fognini open 5/2. Without delay, the Italian saved a break point and made 6/2 soon after.

The second set started, and the game continued in favor of the Italian, while Nadal piled up errors and double faults. And so it was, with three unforced failures, that the Spaniard conceded another break in the first game. This time, however, Rafa responded quickly. With good defenses, he won two beautiful rallies and returned the break when Fognini sent a far right: 1/1. The game followed with many ups and downs, now with both tennis players oscillating. It was like that until the sixth game, when the Italian was finally the first to confirm the serve in the partial. At that point, Nadal had already accumulated 25 unforced errors.

Rafa, however, continued to fight. In the seventh game, he finally re-confirmed the serve after four straight breaks. In the eighth, he broke and tied the split at 4/4 after four consecutive unforced errors from the Italian. The former number 1 saw the tide in his favour, reduced his mistakes and started to attack without risking too much. Fognini’s mistakes continued to pop up, and Nadal got one more break to go 6/4 in the set and even the game.

Nadal gained the confidence to strike more, and winners began to appear more frequently. Meanwhile, Fognini followed with ups (not so many) and downs (several). The two exchanged service breaks, but this time with the Spaniard in front. Rafa opened 3/1 and then 4/2 when he responded to a smash from the Italian with a spectacular pass on the parallel. After that, he controlled the actions until he made 6/2 and turned the game around.

Accidental racket to the nose

Fognini couldn’t find a way to show the beautiful tennis of the first set again, and Nadal took charge of the match. He opened 3/0 and looked to be heading towards a quiet end of the match, but that wasn’t quite what happened. In the fourth game, when trying to hit a ball, Rafa saw his racket hit the floor of the court and come back to hit him in the nose. The shock caused bleeding, and the match was stopped for the Spaniard to be attended to.

When play resumed, Fognini showed renewed energy. In addition to confirming his service, he counted a couple of errors from the Spaniard to win two break points. Nadal, however, saved himself from both, including with a beautiful pass in the 30/40. With a serve-and-volley, Rafa confirmed and opened 4/1, keeping his advantage. It was Fognini’s last chance.

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