In addition to many injuries in recent years, Rafael Nadal almost broke his nose during the US Open last year. The four-time champion was trailing 6-2, 4-2 against Fabio Fognini in the second round before raising his level and scoring a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 victory in two hours and 43 minutes.
Nadal was leading 3-0 in the fourth set when he was scared when he injured his nose on the bounce of a racket and had to be seen by a doctor. He stopped the bleeding and returned to action. Fortunately, it was nothing serious, and the Spaniard sealed the game shortly after.
It was Nadal’s 21st Major victory in as many matches in 2022, not playing at his best level but dominating the rival and taking 16 of the final 19 games. Both players added more unforced errors than winners, and the Spaniard was unhappy with his level.
Fognini grabbed 40% of the return points and converted them into six breaks. Nadal was even more efficient on return games, grabbing nine breaks from 14 chances to control the pace after the opening 70 minutes. Rafa couldn’t find his shots in the first set and made a forehand error in the third game to put himself 2-1 down.
The Italian opened up a 4-2 lead after 25 minutes and closed the set on serve in the eighth game after saving a break point. The second set started with five straight breaks before Fabio held at 3-2 to extend the lead. Rafa had to raise his level and recovered the break in the eighth game to level the score at 4-4.
The Spaniard took another return game at 5-4 to chain four consecutive games and gain momentum. Nadal managed three consecutive breaks in the third set to control the pace and win it 6-2 and move closer to the finish line. Rafa injured his nose at the beginning of the fourth game of the fourth set after hitting a racket that he bounced.
Nadal fended off break points in game five to stay in front and held within 30 at 5-1 to seal the deal and move on to the next round. “I am quite sore from the racket hit in the nose.
Nakajima on Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are polar opposites as tennis players, but the two tennis legends have always had similar personalities, according to Mike Nakajima.
“Roger and Rafa, they’re very similar personalities. They are two of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet,” Nakajima said. “But on the court, they were completely different. Roger plays like he is walking on a cloud, light on his feet. Rafa is the opposite; his physicality is just brute force,” he stated.