Rafael Nadal advanced to the third round of the 2022 US Open after defeating Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday night. And along with overcoming a bad start, the tennis veteran also dealt with an unusual self-inflicted incident in the fourth set.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion was off to what he described as one of his “worst starts, probably ever,” but he got it together and started improving in the second set. By the fourth set, it seemed like the Spanish star had it all under control. Nadal held a 3-0 lead when all of a sudden he was seen dropping his racket, walking off the court and laying down while grabbing his face.
At first, one of the commentators guessed it was a nose bleed, but it was actually a cut on the right side of his nose. During a follow-through after hitting the ball back to Fognini, Nadal’s racket hit the hard court at Arthur Ashe Stadium and it bounced back straight to his face.
It happened really fast, so the crowd wasn’t sure what was going on until a slow motion replay was shown on the big screen. When the audience saw it, they reacted accordingly. Nadal closed his eyes, and Fognini asked him in Spanish if he felt dizzy. Nadal, still on the ground, said he did feel a little bit dizzy. At that point, the trainer was already making his way to Nadal and an official medical timeout was called.
“Strong hit. At the beginning I felt I broke the nose because I was shocked,” Nadal said during the post-match press conference. “It was very painful.”
Players are not allowed to be on the court if there is any bleeding, so after getting the cut cleaned up, Nadal got a bandage on his nose. Once he stood up, the crowd cheered and the match resumed.
After his victory, Nadal was asked about his injury and if this had ever happened to him before. He showed the crowd his sense of humor was still intact as he joked about the situation.
“With a golf club, but not with at tennis racket,” Nadal said during his interview on the court.
Nadal has suffered his fair share of injuries this year, including during Wimbledon when he had to withdraw ahead of his semifinal match against Nick Kyrgios. Fortunately, his nose seems to be doing fine, and he was able to practice on Friday. He admitted during the post-match press conference that all the injuries have not allowed him to have the continuity he wants, but overall he is happy with how he’s pushed though everything. After all, he did win the Australian Open and the French Open.
Next up, Nadal will take on Richard Gasquet during Saturday’s third round at 7 p.m. ET. Click here for everything you need to know about the 2022 US Open, including scores, schedules and how to watch.