Rafael Nadal, of Spain, lies down to receive medical treatment on his nose after hitting himself with his own racket during his match against Fabio Fognini, of Italy, in the second round of the men

US Open 2022: Bloody Rafael Nadal overcomes bumpy start, freak accident to defeat Fabio Fognini

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Rafael Nadal is one step closer to his 23rd Grand Slam title after overcoming a difficult start the second round of the US Open and a freak incident with his own racquet on Thursday night to defeat Fabio Fognini in four sets.

Nadal leads the fourth set 3-0 quickly dropped his bat and grabbed his nose after seemingly hitting himself in the face when his racquet bounced off the court while attempting to return the ball.

Rafael Nadal of Spain after hitting his nose with his own racquet during his match against Fabio Fognini of Italy in the second round of men's singles at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 1 , 2022 in New York City.

Rafael Nadal of Spain after hitting his nose with his own racquet during his match against Fabio Fognini of Italy in the second round of men’s singles at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 1 , 2022 in New York City.
(Frey/TPN/Getty Images)

He lay on the pitch next to his bench while a coach tended to his bloody nose, which appeared to have been injured near the bridge, before eventually returning after a five-minute delay.

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“It was just a big hit. At first I thought, I [broke] it, the nose, because I was in shock,” Nadal told reporters during his post-match press conference. “It was very painful.”

“It seems like it isn’t [broken], I am not sure yet. I think it’s getting bigger, but it’s just a shock. Somehow I deserved to play so badly for a while,” Nadal joked about his rocky start.

Rafael Nadal of Spain lies down to receive medical treatment after hitting himself with his own racquet during his match against Fabio Fognini of Italy in the second round of men's singles at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 01, 2022 in New York City.

Rafael Nadal of Spain lies down to receive medical treatment after hitting himself with his own racquet during his match against Fabio Fognini of Italy in the second round of men’s singles at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 01, 2022 in New York City.
(Frey/TPN/Getty Images)

“No, just kidding. Of course not. things [just] happens sometimes.”

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Nadal dropped the first 2-6, to submit the opening set for the second match in a row this week.

“I wasn’t at the start for more than an hour and a half,” said the 36-year-old Spaniard about his performance. “Probably one of the worst starts ever.”

His troubles continued in set number two but Fognini joined him as both players combined had 39 unforced errors, just nine winners, seven breaks of serve and just three holds.

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand against Fabio Fognini of Italy during the second round of men's singles at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 1, 2022 in New York City.

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand against Fabio Fognini of Italy during the second round of men’s singles at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 1, 2022 in New York City.
(Frey/TPN/Getty Images)

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The momentum shifted in Nadal’s favor in the third and he finished the match 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-1.

“You can’t play around with Nadal,” said Fognini. “I put him back in the match and he just got better and better from there.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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