Saturday, September 5, 2015 10:37 am
Rafael Nadal is out of the US Open, sent packing by Italian Fabio Fognini in a thrilling five sets
Not really an upset: the Italian had beaten Nadal thrice this season, twice on clay, Nadal’s favorite surface.
The surprise was that Nadal had taken the first two sets, 6-3, 6-4, only to collapse in the three other sets as Fognini took charge, whacking as ESPN put it, “flat-footed winners from all over the court, and Nadal began to shrink back off the baseline”. Fognini took the next three sets, 6-4, 6-3,6-4.
This was the first time in his storied career that the 29 year-old Nadal had lost a match in which he won the first two sets. Prior to this match, Nadal was 148-0 in such situations.
Defeated, Nadal admitted afterwards: “He played great,” referring to his conqueror, shaking his head. “He win so, accept that he played better than me. That’s what happened. My mind allowed me to fight until the last point, [in recent years] I was not always able to do that.
“It’s an improvement for me. That’s a positive thing. Happy with that.”
The talkative Fognini was rendered nearly speechless immediately afterward.
“With Rafa it’s never easy,” Fognini said. “Right now I can tell you something more. Something incredible I did today. Two sets to love against Rafa, maybe you have to lose. But I win. Everything was in a perfect way.”
The eight seeded Nadal will now go home in Mallorca without winning a major trophy in 2015.
He lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open to Tomas Berdych and at the same stage to Novak Djokovic at the French Open, ending a string of five straight titles and nine in 10 years. Wimbledon was the worst; Nadal fell to Dustin Brown in the second round.
Fognini, seeded 32nd, will next face 18th seed Feliciano Lopez, who thwarted No. 10 seed Milos Raonic in straight sets in the third round.
*from reports by ESPN and www.usopen.org