US Open: Rafael Nadal overcomes nosebleeds and bad start to beat Fabio Fognini

Rafael Nadal bounced back from a very shaky start and a bloody nose inflicted by his own racquet to defeat Fabio Fognini and reach the third round of the US Open.

The second seed, who hasn’t lost before the last 32 in New York since 2004, was down by a set and 4-2, struggling to get the ball onto the court.

But with some help from a similarly wayward opponent, Nadal turned things around and finished strong in a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 win to start a duel with fellow veteran Richard Gasquet.

After seeking treatment for blisters in the second set, there was a bizarre moment in the fourth when Nadal’s racquet bounced off the court into his nose, drawing blood and causing the 36-year-old to lie down on the court and seek medical attention .

He said afterwards: “At first I thought I broke my nose because it was a shock. It was very painful.

“(There’s a) bit of pain, but (I feel) good. Happy after a terrible start. I still don’t understand how I started so badly because the feeling before the game was good.

“But things like that happen sometimes, so you have to accept and move on. That’s what I did. I was lucky that Fabio made some mistakes and I was able to start putting some balls in play and obviously finish the game better, much better.

“I practice way, way better than what I play. That’s a positive thing. I then have to implement that in the games.”

The Spaniard had played just one game since tearing his stomach at Wimbledon before arriving at Flushing Meadows and was wary of committing fully to his serve.

It wasn’t just serve that initially had a bad day at Arthur Ashe Stadium as Nadal sprayed groundstrokes and missed routine balls.

In the opening two sets, he made 27 unforced errors and dropped serve five times, including four in a row.

Fognini didn’t need to do anything special to put himself in position to repeat his 2015 triumph over Nadal here, but when the Spaniard finally found his reach, his opponent was unable to react.

Rafael Nadal celebrates his win over Fabio Fognini (Frank Franklin II/AP)

(AP)

When the nasal prolapse occurred, he was in full control and couldn’t affect his momentum, while resting on the fact that he has beaten Gasquet in all 17 of his professional meetings.

Nadal’s compatriot Carlos Alcaraz was more comfortable earlier in the day, beating Federico Coria 6-2 6-1 7-5.

The third placed was delighted with his level and concentration and said: “I’m really happy with my performance today. I think I played really, really well. I had to be really, really focused. Grand Slam, every minute on the courts counts. You have to be really focused and show your best level. I think I made it today.”

Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner, who both had five-set fights in the first round, won easily this time but eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz is 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6 after a shock loss : 3 eliminated against Ilya Ivashka and Grigor Dimitrov also fell.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/rafael-nadal-fabio-fognini-andrey-rublev-new-york-carlos-alcaraz-b2158127.html US Open: Rafael Nadal overcomes nosebleeds and bad start to beat Fabio Fognini

Fry Electronics Team

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