The four-time champion overcame both a slow start and the upset-minded Fognini to prevail back into the third round for the 14th time in 16 appearances in Flushing Meadows.
Rafael Nadal, no stranger to playing through pain, overcame a dropped first set and an unfortunate cut on his nose to advance past Fabio Fognini in the Ashe nightcap, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.
Rafael Nadal isn’t one to hold a grudge. But if the Spaniard, 36, was seeking payback for his painful five-set loss to Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the third round of the 2015 US Open, he got it on Thursday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium—though it didn’t come without a fight, one that left him bloodied.
“One of the worst starts, probably ever,” said Nadal, who amassed 37 unforced errors on the night. “But that’s part of the game. You need to stay humble, you need to accept the situation. It hasn’t been an easy month for me, so I know this kind of stuff can happen. It’s another opportunity for me. I’m still alive after a match like this. That means a lot.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2022
Nadal is among four players remaining in the draw (along with Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud) with a chance to be world No. 1 on Sept. 12 based on their US Open results. With two Grand Slam titles this season and no points to defend in New York, he is in prime position to begin his ninth stint and 210th week atop the rankings.