Rafael Nadal defeated Fabio Fognini in the second round of the US Open after accidently smacking himself in the face with his own racket.
On Thursday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 36-year-old overcame a sluggish start to defeat Fognini over four sets, 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-1.
But the 22-time grand slam champion was left bloodied during a tense moment in the set that was to be the decisive one.
Nadal’s racket accidentally struck the Spaniard in the face as he stretched out to return a backhand to Fognini.
Immediately after, Nadal grabbed his nose and dropped his racket, giving up the point. In order to demonstrate the blood that had started to run from his nose, he laid down on the court near the umpire’s chair.
He needed a medical timeout to get treatment for the wound, then came back to finish the set. Nadal downplayed the issue during the victory, stating that he only experienced “a little bit pain, honestly, but good.”
“It was simply a powerful hit. Since it was a shock at first, I initially believed I had broken my nose. Was quite painful,” Nadal said.
“I lost a little bit of the emotion in my head. I don’t know how to explain it in English. It’s about living a little outside of society. I’m not sure, but it doesn’t seem to be (broke). I’m not yet certain. I’m not sure. It seems to be growing steadily, in my opinion.
No, that’s simply a shock, he said with a chuckle, “I deserved to play that poorly for a time!”
Nadal had to fight back from a rare bad start in addition to overcoming a bloodied nose.
In the first two sets, the Spaniard committed 27 unforced errors and lost serve five games, including four consecutive times. “One of the worst starts, possibly ever,” he said.
“But it’s all part of the fun. You must be modest and accept the circumstances. I’ve had a difficult month, so I’m aware that stuff like this can occur. It presents me with another another chance. Even after a match like this, I’m still here. That is very significant.”
As a result of his victory, he will face Richard Gasquet in the US Open third round. With 17 victories over the Frenchman, Nadal has an enviable record versus him.