In the 18th career meeting between veterans Rafael Nadal and Fabio Fognini, the Spaniard survived some early woes to best the Italian for the 14th time. On night four of the US Open in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the #2 seed bested the Italian 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-1. What looked like a match heading towards an absolute shock to the tennis community turned into a relatively straightforward win for the 22x Grand Slam Champion.
Nadal exacted some long-time revenge after Fognini knocked Nadal out of the 2015 US Open in the third round.
Fognini got off to a very fast start in this match. The Italian broke Nadal’s serve in the third game of the match and did not look back, taking the first set 6-2. Nadal looked uncomfortable from the get-go, hitting just three winners in the first set.
At the beginning of set two, neither player could find a strong footing. The two traded five breaks to open the set, giving Fognini a 3-2 lead while serving. Though he held to make it 4-2, Nadal won the next four games to take the second set 6-4. It was not a pretty set from either player as they two combined for just nine winners and 39 unforced errors.
The third set, however, was a completely different story. Nadal started to find his form, powering his first serve in at a 75-percent clip. The Spaniard hit seven winners and just five unforced errors on his way to a 6-2, 37-minute set three victory.
In set four Nadal took full control over the Italian. Although he did not look like vintage Rafa, he was able to find consistency from the ground, forcing Fognini into 11 unforced errors. The story of the set was Nadal hitting himself in the nose with his own racket. This caused him to draw blood as play was stopped for a few minutes.
Nadal is set to take on veteran Richard Gasquet in round three. To say he has had success against the Frenchman would be a mighty understatement. Nadal is a career 17-0 against Gasquet, including two victories at the US Open.
With that said, the #2 seed will most definitely not take the veteran lightly. After dropping the first set in both matches this tournament, look for Nadal to come out firing in this round three match on Saturday.
Main Photo from Getty.