NEW YORK — Rafael Nadal cut the bridge of his nose with his own racquet when it bounced off the court on a shot’s follow-through, leaving him bloody and dizzy in his second-round win at the US Open.
The game was delayed by about five minutes during a medical time-out in the fourth set, which would result in a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 win over Fabio Fognini at Arthur Ashe Stadium in a match that began on Thursday evening and ended after midnight on Friday.
It made for a bizarre and briefly frightening scene. Nadal immediately grimaced, dropped his racquet, placed a palm against his face and then placed both hands on his head. He said at his post-game press conference that he immediately thought he might have broken his nose, which kept swelling.
He said it was a “shock” when it happened and he felt “a little bit out of the world”.
Still, Nadal managed to joke about it. When asked during his on-court interview if this had happened to him before, he managed a smirk and replied, “With a golf club, but not with a tennis racquet.”
How was he feeling?
“Well, I was just a little dizzy at first,” said Nadal, who has won four of his 22 Grand Slam titles at the US Open, most recently in 2019, when he last competed in the hard court tournament. “A little painful.”
The episode came at the first point of the game as Nadal led 3-0 in the fourth set and was clearly in command after dropping the opening set for the second straight game this week.
Nadal, 36, moved to the right when he hit a backhand. After touching the ball, his racquet bounced off the ground and hit him in the nose.
He went to the sidelines, lay down and waited for the coach and Fognini went over to check on Nadal.
“He told me that everything is fine,” said Fognini later. “I hope it’s nothing serious.”
After putting a bandage on his nose, Nadal resumed the game. He would lose that game but not another, improving to 21-0 in Grand Slam games in 2022.
Nadal won the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June for his 14th title there, then made it to the Wimbledon semifinals in July before a stomach problem forced him to withdraw (which doesn’t go down as a loss).
The match against Fognini, who defeated him at the 2015 US Open, did not start well for Nadal. His shots missed and he fell back quickly.
“I wasn’t at the start for more than an hour and a half,” said Nadal. “Probably one of the worst starts ever.”
The second set was little fun for either man, filled with poor play from both: combining for 39 unforced errors and just nine winners, seven service breaks and just three holds.
“I was honestly lucky that Fabio made some mistakes in the second set,” said Nadal.
When Nadal threw a backhand into the net, Fognini broke to take a 3-2 lead and then went 4-2 ahead. But from there it was Fognini who faltered, missing four straight shots only to be broken on serve as part of a four-game run by Nadal to make it a set apiece.
“You can’t play around with Nadal,” said Fognini. “I let him back into the match and he just got better and better from there.”
In the third, Nadal pulled off a particularly perfect shot – a forehand on the run that diverted an overhead from Fognini and sent him down the line for a 4-2 winner to break. Nadal’s momentum carried him right to the edge of the stands where thousands were on their feet and he punched the air screaming, “Vamos!”
Not long after, that set also belonged to Nadal, and he collected 16 of the last 19 games.
Next up for Nadal is a third-round match against Richard Gasquet, a 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-4 winner over 32-seeded Miomir Kecmanovic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/34505763/rafael-nadal-defeats-fabio-fognini-four-sets-second-round-us-open-match Rafael Nadal defeats Fabio Fognini in four sets in second-round US Open match