Nadal says he was lucky, overcomes 6-2 loss in first set – by Jackson Hayes, via chinaopen.com
“When someone is playing like that, you have to try to push him to the limit,” Nadal said. “That’s something I wasn’t doing for the first set and a half.”
Nadal’s knee certainly appeared to bother him during the first half of the afternoon. His lateral movement was noticeably slow, which makes playing from the baseline, as Nadal prefers, extremely challenging.
“Hopefully it’s nothing serious,” he said. “When something happens like this in the first point in the match… the memory stays there and it is very difficult to be 100 percent focused on the match.”
After finally notching his first win of the second set in the fourth game, Nadal began to play with more assurance, and moved around the court in increasingly Nadal-like fashion.
With his knees cooperating, it seemed Nadal was able to get to almost every ball in the second half of the match. Fognini had 36 winners on the day but just five in the third set.
“What’s very positive is I really was feeling better and better,” Nadal said.
“I played a little bit better, played with a little bit more rhythm.”
However, despite Nadal’s recovery, the comeback was almost too late.
Down 1-4 in the second set, Nadal faced break point before rallying to pull out the win. It then took him six break points to reach 3-4.
“I was very lucky,” Nadal said.
With momentum on his side, the Spaniard kept up the pressure in the third set and forced Fognini into 12 errors.
“I was able to fight, to change a little bit the dynamic of the match,” Nadal said. “The players who are in the top position of the rankings, it’s because they are able to win when things are not going well.”
“One of the most important things in tennis (is to) win when you don’t play well.”
Nadal moves on to the semifinals of the China Open, where he’ll face either John Isner or Tomas Berdych [we know now that it will be Berdych]. If Nadal can win his semifinal matchup, he will reclaim the title of world No.1, regardless of how current leader Novak Djokovic performs this weekend.
“I am going to have a very a tough opponent (in the semifinals). In the end, it’s another match,” Nadal said.
“It’s a little bit more special for the circumstance, but nothing else.”
Video: Rafael Nadal’s post-quarterfinal victory presser – he talks about what happened out there today and what his mindset was when he got back on track to win the match. See the entire video: Click here!