The Spaniard came back from behind against Fabio Fognini but almost crocked himself at Flushing Meadows
Rafael Nadal once again did things the hard way by coming back from a set behind and injuring himself in a bizarre racket incident before advancing to the third round at the US Open on Thursday night.
The all-time great dropped the first set 6-2 to Fabio Fognini in just 34 minutes at Flushing Meadows and was trailing the second set 4-2 until a rallying call from his box and coach Carlos Moya of «Come on, Rafa» forced him to get his house in order.
Eventually taking the second set 6-4, he didn’t give his Italian rival time to breathe as he pulled 2-1 in front in sets by claiming the third 6-2.
The 36-year-old was then cruising 3-0 in the fourth set when he shocked fans and himself with a freak accident.
Slipping on the hard court in New York to make a tricky, low, backhand shot, Nadal lost control of his racket which bounced off the surface and hit him square in the nose.
Nadal and injuries 🙏Now, he suffers a freak nose injury. Even though it doesn’t seem to be serious or at least feels that way.
— Bharath Ramaraj (@Fancricket12) September 2, 2022
Wow. Rafa Nadal hits himself on the nose with his racket bounce off the court and cuts his nose… which requires an MTO. Not sure I’ve ever seen this before. #USOpen
— James Gray (@jamesgraysport) September 2, 2022
As a bloodied Nadal scurried off to his bench, Fognini called the medical services to rush to his opponent’s aid.
Once the doctors had cleaned up the blood and put a laid-down Nadal a bandage on, he stood to his feet to splash water on his face and then received hearty applause from the crowd of 23,000 punters in the Arthur Ashe Stadium as he returned to action.
With this all the inspiration he needed, Nadal finished Fognini off by winning the fourth set 6-1 to book his place in the third round as the reigning Australian and French Open champion who boasts an impressive 26-0 record at Grand Slams in 2022.
Following the win, Nadal was asked whether such an incident had happened before and answered: «With a golf club but not with a tennis racket» while chuckling.
«Well, just a little bit dizzy at the beginning,» he replied when asked how he was feeling. «A little bit painful.»
«At the beginning I thought I broke the nose because it was a shock. It was very painful,» Nadal also explained, with fans online describing it as the «weirdest injury ever» and a «freak injury».
«[There’s a] little bit of pain but [I’m feeling] good. [I’m] happy after a terrible start. I don’t understand yet how I started that bad because the feeling before the match was good,» he claimed.
Currently leading generational rivals Novak Djokovic (21) and Roger Federer (20) on 22 Grand Slam triumphs, Nadal’s quest to deliver a fifth US Open title continues with a third round meeting against Richard Gasquet on Saturday.
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