US Open: Nadal overcomes shaky start and bloodied nose against Fognini to reach third round

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Rafael Nadal's quest for a 23rd grand slam title remains alive after overcoming a slow start to defeat Italian veteran Fabio Fognini in four sets on Thursday.

Nadal lost the opening set and trailed 4-2 in the second frame before responding in trademark fashion, winning 16 of the next 19 games, to set up a third-round meeting against Richard Gasquet.

The Spaniard won 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-1 in two hours and 42 minutes, having also lost the opening set in the first-round win over Rinky Hijikata.

This year's Australian Open and French Open champion's surge to victory was momentarily halted in the fourth set 3-0 up in the fourth game when his racquet bounced off the hard court and into his nose when stretching for a shot.

Nadal needed a medical timeout and treatment but would return to play on, appearing relatively untroubled despite wearing a bandage over his nose, to complete the win.

The four-time US Open champion, who amassed 37 unforced errors for the match, found himself in a spot of bother after losing the first frame with Fognini converting both of his two break points, before a wild second set that included seven breaks of serve.

Fognini appeared on course for a two-set lead at 4-2 but 23 unforced errors in the second set let him down with Nadal's pressure rising.

The Spaniard's game went up a level in the third, improving his first serve percentage to 75 per cent and only omitting five unforced errors and he carried that momentum through the fourth where he broke Fognini in the second and sixth games, before serving it out.

Data Slam: Breaks galore as Rafa gets revenge

Way back at the 2015 Open playing in a similarly late evening match past midnight, Fognini came from two sets down to defeat Nadal but the Spaniard reversed that this time around. Back in 2015 there were 17 breaks of serve for the match, while in 2022, with a set less played, there were 15 breaks for the match. Almost half of those were in a crazy second set.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal – 20/37

Fognini – 24/59

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Nadal – 4/2

Fognini – 1/9

BREAK POINTS WON

Nadal – 9/14

Fognini – 6/10