Rafael Nadal accidentally outdid himself in the face with his own racket by beating Fabio Fognini in the second round of the US Open.
The 36-year-old had to react from a slow start to beat Fognini in four sets 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-1 Thursday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
But the victory came with a scary moment in what was supposed to be the final set, which left the 22-time Grand Slam champion bloodied.
As the Spaniard reached out to return a backhand to Fognini, Nadal’s racket bounced off the pitch and inadvertently hit him in the face.
Nadal immediately squeezed his nose, dropping the racket and losing the point. He lay down on the court next to the referee’s chair and pulled his hand away from his nose, showing the blood that he had started to flow.
He needed a medical timeout to get treatment for his injury, and then go back to closing the set. After the win, Nadal downplayed the injury, saying he felt “a little pain, honestly, but good”.
“(It) was just a big hit. At first I thought I had (broke) my nose because it was a shock at first. It was very painful, “explained Nadal.
“I lost a little bit of the – I don’t know how to put it in English – but a little bit of the feeling of the head. It’s about being a little bit out of this world.
“I don’t know, it looks like it’s not (broken). I’m not sure yet. I do not know. I think she is getting bigger and bigger. ”
He joked with a smile: “No, it’s just a shock, somehow I deserved to play so badly for a while!”
In addition to coming back from a bloody nose, Nadal also had to fight back from a rare bad start.
The Spaniard scored 27 unforced errors in the first two sets, losing his serve five times including four in a row. He called it “one of the worst beginnings, probably ever”.
“But that’s part of the game. You have to remain humble, you have to accept the situation. It hasn’t been an easy month for me, so I know this kind of thing can happen. This is another opportunity for me. I’m still alive after a game like this. This means a lot. ”
The win means he will play against Richard Gasquet in the third round of the US Open. Nadal has a notoriously good record against the Frenchman, winning all 17 fights.