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.
- On Wild Night, Serena Williams Survives; Rafael Nadal Does Not (via The New York Times)
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.
- Nadal: “I Went Down Fighting” (via ATP World Tour)
“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.
- Fiery Italian ices Nadal (via US Open)
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.
- Rafael Nadal dumped out of US Open 2015 by Fabio Fognini (via The Telegraph)
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.”
- Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, LeBron James and Rafael Nadal among top 10 most valuable sports stars on Twitter (via Daily Mail)
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.
- 15 love with Rafael Nadal (via US Open)
Two-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal answers rapid-fire questions in the latest edition of “15-Love.”
- Rafael Nadal acknowledges that ‘Fabio Fognini played better’ (via Sport360)
- Rafael Nadal makes emotional exit at the US Open after defeat to Fabio Fognini (via Eurosport)
- Highlights: Fabio Fognini pulls off stunning upset over Rafael Nadal at the US Open (via Eurosport)
- The Coach: Rafa Nadal being crushed on his second serve (via Eurosport)