Rafael Nadal trails 6-2 but refuses to surrender

Rafael Nadal overcame a slow start and defeated Fabio Fognini in Montreal 2019

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal trails 6-2 but refuses to surrender

Fourteen years after lifting his first Canada Masters crown in 2005 as a teenager, Rafael Nadal was among the favorites in Montreal 2019. Rafa reached the semi-final following a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Fabio Fognini in just under two hours.

Nadal made a slow start while seeking his 72nd Masters 1000 semi-final. He found his A-game from set number two to race past the opponent who struggled with an injury, admitting to Rafa at the net that he was considering surgery.

Three months earlier, Fognini delivered one of Nadal's most brutal losses on clay in Monte Carlo and was on the right course to repeat that in Montreal. After a slower start, Rafa shifted into a higher gear to secure his 380th Masters 1000 victory and the 40th of the season.

Nadal started to dictate the pace once he found a rhythm on his backhand. He hit 20 winners and 22 unforced errors, leaving the Italian on an 18-34 ratio. The Spaniard built the upper hand in the shortest points up to four strokes, improving that segment of his game in comparison to the previous clash against Guido Pella.

Rafael Nadal defeated Fabio Fognini in three sets in Montreal 2019.

The Spaniard lost only five points behind the first serve, dropping 12 points behind the initial shot in sets two and three and mounting the pressure on Fabio.

The Italian struggled increasingly with an ankle injury, unable to move properly in the encounter's closing stages. Nothing worked in Nadal's favor in the opening set. He could not find the first serve and experienced a break in game three after a loose forehand.

Another weak forehand cost Rafa his service game at 1-3, and Fognini grabbed the opener with four winners in game eight. With no room for errors, Nadal started to fire from all cylinders in set number two despite still serving at 54%.

He broke at love in game two following Fabio's double fault and saved a break chance in game five to maintain the lead. He stole Fognini's serve in the next one to increase the advantage and clinched the set with two service winners at 5-1 to gather momentum ahead of the decider.

Rafa broke in the first game thanks to his rival's backhand error. He moved 4-1 forward after the Italian's wild forehand in game five and sealed the deal with a hold at 15 at 5-2 to remain on the title course.

Rafael Nadal Fabio Fognini