Why Fabio Fognini Says Playing Rafael Nadal Is ‘A Great Gift’ | ATP Tour

Fabio Fognini is one of the great showmen of tennis. The charismatic Italian is capable of competing against anyone on the circuit on his day. The 35-year-old shotmaker knows he’ll have to look his best on Wednesday night as he plays four games US Open champion Rafael Nadal.

“I know it’s going to be very tough. I know he’s the favorite. I know he is everything,” Fognini told ATPTour.com. “I’m just one of a thousand. He’s probably one of two or three. But let’s see. I know how to play, I know your game. He knows me. We know each other very well and I will at least try to play my best tennis and have as much fun as possible.”

For many it likes to face Nadal on a huge stage Arthur Ashe Stadium during an evening session would be a daunting task. While Fognini was clear that Nadal is the favourite, he previously defeated the Spanish superstar at Flushing Meadows.

In the third round of US Open In 2015, Nadal took the lead in two sets against Fognini. The Italian caught fire from there and charged past the left-hander in one of the most stunning comebacks in recent memory. It was the first time Nadal gambled away a two-set lead in a Grand Slam. When asked what he remembers from that night, Fognini pointed out one thing.

“For winning!” said Fognini, giggling. “That’s the most important.”

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Fognini has won four of his 17 ATP Head2Head meetings against Nadal, most recently defeating the 22-time Major winner en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo in 2019.

“Of course. I’m 35, I’m not 20 anymore. That’s why I still play tennis and that’s why I love playing in matches like this with a great champion like him,” said Fognini. “Hopefully I’ll play my best tennis , complicate him throughout the game and try to fight to the end.”

Fognini fought hard in his first round match in New York. The Italian rallied from two sets to eliminate Aslan Karatsev. The fans crowded the veteran and some fans stopped after the game and asked for an autograph.

“I like that kind of emotion,” Fognini said. “[I am] happy because of course it is my work and I try to do my best.”

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After Fognini stunned Nadal in 2015, it was clear to him that there was no doubt about his game plan. He knew he had to play risky tennis to earn a reward, which turned out well that night. On Thursday, the plan remains unchanged.

“Of course. He’s one of the best defenders in the world, if not the best defender in the world,” said Fognini. “I know how to play.”

This will be Fognini’s first match indoors Arthur Ashe stadium since that win. What does he enjoy most about competing in the largest tennis stadium in the world?

“You should ask [Rafa] because he won, or my wife,” Fognini said, referring to Flavia Pennetta, another former US Open Champion. “For me it’s just a great gift I’ve given myself to compete again against a great champion like him and I want to play my best tennis because of course it’s a dream to beat him Arthur Ashe.”

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