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US Open: Nadal struggles past Fognini and freak nose accident to reach third round

Nadal needed four sets to get past the Italian but was more troubled by a nose bleed after he accidentally hit himself with his racquet

Rafael Nadal hurts himself during his second round match at the US Open Rafael Nadal hurts himself during his second round match at the US Open Image Credit: AI/ Reuters/ Panoramic

World No 2 Rafael Nadal overcame a slow start and a bleeding nose to reach the third round of the US Open with a four-set win over Italy’s Fabio Fognini at the US Open on Thursday night.

It was the end of the fourth day of play in New York. The men’s draw lost four seeds from the 16 matches played: Hubert Hurkacz (8), Grigor Dimitrov (17), Borna Coric (25) who was Nadal’s vanquisher at Cincinnati and Miomir Kecmanovic (32) who was Nadal’s scheduled opponent.

Nadal, who has yet to lose a Grand Slam match in 2021 (he won the Australian Open and Roland-Garros and pulled out before his Wimbledon semi-final because of injury), struggled early on. As the errors piled up, he went down 6-2, 4-2 to Fognini.

The Italian had knocked Nadal out of this tournament in 2015 in the third-round stage and also has three other wins over the Spaniard across 17 career meetings.

Nadal: “Why did I start that bad ?”

But Nadal was not going to go away without a fight. He fought back to win the last four games of the second set and claim it 6-4.

“I don’t understand yet how I started that bad because the feeling before the match was good”, Nadal told reporters. “But, yeah, these kind of things sometimes happen so need to accept and keep going. That’s what I did. Lucky that Fabio make some mistakes and I was able to start putting some balls in and finish the match playing obviously better, much better.”

At the beginning, I thought I breaked the nose because it was a shock. It was very painful.

Rafael Nadal

After that, Nadal was dominant for the rest of the match, with his biggest problem coming when he accidentally hit himself with his racquet, leading to a nose bleed which required a medical time out and some bandaging.

See how the incident happened, when Nadal hit himself with his racquet on a defensive backhand:

“At the beginning, I thought I breaked the nose because it was a shock,” he said. “It was very painful. I lost little bit the – I don’t know how to say in English – but a little bit the feeling of my head. It’s about being a little bit out of the world. It seems like is not breaked. I am not sure yet. I don’t know. I think it’s getting bigger and bigger.”

He even joked : “That’s just a shock, some way I deserved to play that bad for a while (laughter).”

Once he was bandaged, he continued where he left off and completed a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 win in two hours and 43 minutes to reach the third round. This was the second match in a row in which Nadal dropped the opening set. He needed four sets to beat Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata (4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3) in his first round on Tuesday.

Nadal to face Gasquet next for place in last 16

Up next for Nadal is France’s Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman scored a 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over 32nd seeded Miomir Kecmanovic.

Nadal and Gasquet have played 17 times on the ATP Tour with the Spaniard having won all 17 of their previous meetings, including a semi-final clash at the 2013 US Open. Four of their first five matches went to three sets but since then, Nadal has won their last 12 matches in straight sets (29 sets in a row).

Gasquet does have one win over Nadal, though, but that came at ATP Challenger level way back in 2003 before their first-ever ATP Tour clash.

US Open, New York City (Grand Slam), other second-round results

  • Frances Tiafoe (22) beat Jason Kubler: 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (2)
  • Ilya Ivashka beat Hubert Hurkacz (8): 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3
  • Denis Shapovalov (19) beat Roberto Carballes Baena: 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
  • Richard Gasquet beat Miomir Kecmanovic (32): 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
  • Diego Schwartzman (14) beat Alexei Popyrin: 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (6)
  • Brandon Nakashima beat Grigor Dimitrov (17): 7-6 (5), 7-5, 6-3
  • Andrey Rublev (9) beat SoonWoo Kwon: 6-3, 6-0, 6-4
  • Lorenzo Musetti (26) beat Gijs Brouwer (Q): 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
  • Cameron Norrie (7) beat João Sousa: 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4)
  • Carlos Alcaraz (3) beat Federico Coria: 6-2, 6-1, 7-5
  • Jannik Sinner (11) beat Christopher Eubanks (Q): 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-2
  • Jenson Brooksby beat Borna Coric (25): 6-4, 7-6 (10), 6-1
  • Daniel Evans (20) beat James Duckworth: 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
  • Marin Čilić (15) beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas: 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3
  • Daniil Medvedev (1) beat Arthur Rinderknech: 6-2, 7-5, 6-3
  • Jack Draper beat Felix Auger-Aliassime (6): 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
  • Holger Rune beat John Isner: walkover
  • Karen Khachanov (27) beat Thiago Monteiro: 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
  • Yibing Wu (Q) beat Nuno Borges (Q): 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
  • Nick Kyrgios (23) beat Benjamin Bonzi: 7-6 (3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
  • Tommy Paul (29) beat Sebastian Korda: 6-0, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
  • Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beat Marton Fucsovics: 7-6 (3), 5-7, 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 (3)
  • Casper Ruud (5) beat Tim van Rijthoven: 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
  • Daniel Elahi Galan (Q) beat Jordan Thompson: 6-3, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
  • J.J. Wolf (WC) beat Alejandro Tabilo: 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3
  • Matteo Berrettini (13) beat Hugo Grenier (LL): 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7)
  • Andy Murray beat Emilio Nava (WC): 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0
  • Corentin Moutet (LL) beat Botic van de Zandschulp (21): 6-4, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4
  • Pedro Cachin beat Brandon Holt (Q): 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (6)
  • Alex De Minaur (18) beat Cristian Garin: 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2
  • Pablo Carreno Busta (12) beat Alexander Bublik: 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5)
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