The 22-time Grand Slam champion sustained a nasty cut to the bridge of the nose and required treatment after straining for a backhand in his second-round encounter with Fabio Fognini at Flushing Meadows, driving his racket into the ground before it ricocheted back up and struck him in the face.
Nadal was thankfully able to continue after medical treatment and with a plaster applied to the affected area, though he also needed attention for blisters on an uncomfortable night in New York.
The world No3 - a four-time winner at the US Open - looked in danger of a shock exit from the final Grand Slam of the season as he trailed fiery Italian Fognini by a set and 4-2 at one stage on Thursday, but staged a sensational recovery despite his ailments to triumph 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-1.
Nadal will face France’s Richard Gasquet in round three as he looks to continue his unbeaten major run in 2022, having won both the Australian and French Opens and later been forced to hand Nick Kyrgios a rare semi-final walkover at Wimbledon due to an abdominal tear that led to him playing just one warm-up match for the US Open, a second-round loss to Borna Coric in Cincinnati.
He opened his latest Flushing Meadows campaign by dispatching Australia’s Rinky Hijikata following an opening-set scare.
“At the beginning I thought I broke the nose because it was a shock. It was very painful,” Nadal said of the racket incident.
“(There’s a) little bit of pain but (I’m feeling) good. Happy after a terrible start. I don’t understand yet how I started that bad because the feeling before the match was good.
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“But these kind of things sometimes happen so you need to accept and keep going. That’s what I did. I was lucky that Fabio made some mistakes and I was able to start putting some balls in and finished the match playing obviously better, much better.
“I am practising much, much better than what I am playing. That’s a positive thing. Then I need to make that happen in the matches.”