Totally off his tennis for almost two sets, Rafael Nadal ended up defeating Fabio Fognini (ATP 60), not without hurting his nose, to advance to the third round of the US Open tennis on Thursday. This success allows the Spaniard to virtually regain the place of world N.1.
It took the slow motion of a scene that almost no one could see at real speed, to understand what the Spaniard was suffering from in the middle of the fourth set, hands on his temples, before lying down on the ground. Unbalanced after a backhand, he could not control his racquet, which bounced on the ground and then hit the bridge of his nose with the slice. “I was a little stunned and it hurts a little”he said. “It had happened to me before with a golf club, but never with a tennis racket!”.
A little blood flowed from this cut, but after putting on a bandage, Nadal the warrior resumed his march forward and finished a job he had started badly 2h43 earlier (2-6, 6- 4, 6-2, 6-1). Off topic as rarely, he committed a whopping 27 unforced errors against only 6 winning shots in the first two sets. So much so that the Italian (60th) led 6-2, 3-2 service to follow. But the air pockets never last a whole match with “Rafa”, who was able to recover, pushed by the aggressiveness, failing to fully find his game, against Fognini who would have seen himself playing a level again bad turn at Flushing Meadows, seven years after having eliminated it in the 3rd round, by erasing two sets behind.
Until then, the Mallorcan remained on 151 Grand Slam successes after winning the first two rounds. The Sanremo native has 4 career wins over Nadal (and now 14 losses). “It’s one of the worst starts of my career. I’m still here and that means a lot to me”, commented Nadal. The 36-year-old Spaniard therefore continues on his way, even if it is a little bumpy for the moment, after having already dropped a first set in the 1st round. He will face in the next round the Frenchman Richard Gasquet (ATP 91), against whom he has never lost in 17 confrontations on the main circuit.
Earlier, his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz (ATP 4) passed in force in the third round, dominating the Argentinian Federico Coria (ATP 78) 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 after 2h10 of play. being revealed in New York, where he reached the quarter-finals last year, the 19-year-old phenomenon is now among the main contenders for the title. He will have to confirm this status against the American Jenson Brooksby (ATP 43) who defeated the Croatian Borna Coric (ATP 29), the winner of the Cincinnati Masters 1000: 6-4, 7-6 (12/10), 6-1 . The Briton Cameron Norrie (ATP 9), the Russian Andrey Rublev (ATP 11) or the Italian Jannik Sinner (ATP 13) also held their ranks, unlike the Pole Hubert Hurkacz (ATP 10), eliminated.