Rafael Nadal is through to the third round at the US Open. A four-time champion made another slow start in New York, trailing to Fabio Fognini 6-2, 4-2 before turning the tables and producing a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 victory in two hours and 43 minutes.
It was Nadal's 21st Major win from as many matches in 2022, not playing at his best but overpowering the opponent and taking 16 of the final 19 games. Both players sprayed more unforced errors than winners, and the Spaniard was unhappy with his level.
Still, he did enough to emerge at the top in under three hours, hoping for a better run against Richard Gasquet in the third round. Nadal led 3-0 in the fourth set when he experienced a major scare, injuring his nose with a bouncing racquet and requiring a medical timeout.
Fortunately, it was not serious, and the Spaniard sealed the deal soon after. Fognini took 40% of the return points and turned them into six breaks. Nadal was even more efficient in the return games and grabbed nine breaks from 14 chances to control the pace after the opening 70 minutes.
Rafa could not find his strokes in the opening set and sprayed a forehand error in the third game to fall 2-1 behind. The Italian opened a 4-2 advantage after 25 minutes and wrapped up the set on his serve in game eight after saving a break point.
The second set kicked off with five consecutive breaks before Fabio held at 3-2 to extend the lead.
Rafael Nadal injured his nose against Fabio Fognini at the US Open.
Nadal had to raise his level, and he pulled the break back in game eight to level the score at 4-4.
The Spaniard grabbed another return game at 5-4 to rattle off four straight games and gain a boost. Nadal made three consecutive breaks in the third set to control the pace and clinch it 6-2 to move closer to the finish line.
Rafa injured his nose at the start of the fourth set's fourth game after hitting himself with a bouncing racquet. He received a medical timeout to stop the bleeding and returned to action. Nadal fended off break points in game five to remain in front and held at 30 at 5-1 to seal the deal and move into the next round.
"I'm quite sore from the racquet hitting my nose. At first, I felt dizzy and scared because I thought I had broken it. I'm still not sure because of the swelling at the end. In a way, it's a punishment because of how badly I played," Rafael Nadal said.