Rafa Roundup: What happened to Rafael Nadal?

Screenshot: Eurosport
Screenshot: Eurosport


It just hasn’t been Rafael Nadal’s year.

The Spaniard crashed out of the U.S. Open in the third round after losing a five-set thriller to Italian Fabio Fognini at Flushing Meadows, ensuring Nadal will be without a grand slam win in a calendar year for the first time since 2004.

Unlike Williams, Nadal has not had a very good year, but this result was more about a fantastic comeback fashioned by Fognini than anything Nadal did wrong.

“It’s something incredible I did today,” Fognini said.

Both men competed to their limits, and perhaps a little beyond. They ran and fought, pounding grounds strokes at one another and electrifying an audience that grew increasingly loud even as it thinned out because of the hour.

“I fought until the last point, with a good attitude,” said Nadal. “It was not enough to win today. But the good thing is that my mind allowed me to fight until the end as I have done during all my career. Sometimes this year I was not able to do that.

“The nerves, the anxiety that I had for a long time this season, meant I was not able to do it. I was not able to fight the way that I was fighting today. So it is an improvement for me. I take that like a positive thing and I know what I have to do. I am going to work on it.”

Let it be said Nadal didn’t lose Friday’s match, Fognini won it. He ran the 29-year-old Mallorcan ragged with sharp, angled groundstrokes from the baseline and deft touched volleys at the net. He crushed 20 of his 70 winners in a compelling, bizarre fifth set that included seven consecutive breaks of serve before Fognini finally held at 5-4 for a place in the fourth round.

Ninety minutes into the match, Nadal was up two sets and a break in the third, cruising to what appeared to be a routine win—so routine that many fans had filed to the exits before midnight. But for those who stayed, a classic was in the works, as Fognini raised his game and proved he wasn’t going away so easily.

Confidence, as Federer said while enduring his worst season as a star in 2013, “takes care of all the things you don’t usually think about.” Nadal and his fans would seem to have a lot to think about during the waning weeks of his worst season since 2005. Clearly, Federer has rediscovered it. It remains to be seen when Nadal will, and whether this year is an aberration, or an indication of something more dire.

He tried to look on the bright side as he spoke to the media at about 2:30 a.m., saying that he was pleased that his mind allowed him to “fight until the end, something that I was missing for a while.” But Nadal acknowledged there are problems with his strokes, particularly not enough topspin on his forehand and too-shallow groundstrokes in general. “Easy to understand, easy to explain, difficult to change,” Nadal said. “But I’m going to do it.”

For years, it has been speculated that Nadal’s demanding physical game would one day catch up with him. That day has come. Injuries forced Nadal to miss the 2012 and 2014 US Opens — and now he’s gone in the third round of 2015.

“Against Rafa, it’s always difficult,” Fognini said. “The fifth set was really difficult for both sides. When you go up one break on Rafa, your mind starts thinking about too many things.”

Rafael Nadal is the only tennis player to feature in the top 10 due to his 8.43million following on the popular social media website.



Rafael Nadal, of Spain, rests during the change over after losing a game to Fabio Fognini, of Italy, in the fifth set of a match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Two-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal answers rapid-fire questions in the latest edition of “15-Love.”


  1. I still bekieve in you but you need some new coaching and good health. You have given us your all and we have appreciated ever effort. MV

  2. Those who call for Rafa to quit are those who fear for their own favorite players because they know that Rafa could come back and be a threat again.
    Don’t listen to them, Rafa, they are just scared so they are hoping to discourage you.
    Vamos Rafa siempre.

    • THE good news Rafa keeps moving forward, improving & enjoys his passion for tennis & life!!!!! Rafa is a very very special admired Sportsman & continues to be the classy GOAT he is!!!!
      VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!! : ) : )

  3. I’m certain that all of Rafa’s fans want him to improve his game and win more grandslams. In my opinion, everyone has a right to their opinion. I feel that he should add someone to his team to advise on improving his serve (and for all we know he has); and maybe another scouting expert. And I definitely know that this would help him greatly. But wishing and hoping is all we can do. So, I will continue to support him and hope that he stays healthy so that he is able to compete at his best. And as I said, we all want him to improve and win more majors. Marylynn.

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