Rafael Nadal overcame a freak injury scare when he accidentally hit himself with his own racquet to reach the US Open third round on Thursday.
The Spaniard defeated Italy’s Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 but only after suffering a bizarre self-inflicted injury when leading 3-0 in the fourth set.
The four-time champion, and holder of a men’s record 22 Grand Slam titles, was hurt when his racquet bounced back off the court as he stretched for a ball and hit him squarely on the nose.
The 36-year-old Australian and French Open champion dropped his racquet to the Arthur Ashe Stadium floor and sprinted to the sidelines where he lay on his back with his nose bloodied.
He required a medical timeout to have the wound tended before resuming the match with a bandage across the bridge of his nose.
Nadal goes on to face France’s Richard Gasquet against whom he boasts a 17-0 career record after coming through his late night scrap which saw a total of 15 breaks of serve and 97 unforced errors.
Fognini defeated Nadal from two sets down at the US Open in 2015.
Buoyed by that memory, the 35-year-old swept through the first set with breaks in the third and seventh games against a sluggish and error-plagued Nadal.
It was the second successive match in which Nadal had dropped the first set after suffering the same fate in his opener against Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata.
The first five games of the second set were all breaks with Nadal forced to call the trainer to treat blisters on his left hand at 2-3 down.
Fognini stretched to a 4-2 lead before Nadal reeled off the next four games to take the set and level the tie.
In each of the first two sets, Nadal had managed to hit a meagre three winners.
The four-time champion, however, then doubled his winners count to grab the third set against a suddenly dispirited Fognini who needed a medical timeout to have his right foot bandaged.
Nadal coasted to a 3-0 lead when his bizarre injury temporarily stalled his progress to the last 32.
Bopanna, Ramkumar crash out in opening round
India’s campaign at the US Open 2022 tennis tournament came to an end early as Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan made opening round exits from the final Grand Slam of the year.
Bopanna, who featured in both men’s and mixed doubles, lost both his opening round matches on late Thursday night.
In men’s doubles, the 42-year-old Bopanna and his Dutch partner Matwe Middelkoop, seeded ninth in the tournament, lost to the unseeded Italian team of Andrea Vavassori and Lorenzo Sonego 6-7(2), 2-6.
Later, the veteran Indian tennis player, who won the French Open Grand Slam mixed doubles crown in 2017, paired up with China’s Yang Zhaoxuan. The sixth-seeded Indo-Chinese pair went down 5-7, 5-7 to Australia’s Max Purcell and Gabriela Dabrowski, a two-time mixed-doubles Grand Slam champion.
On the other hand, Ramkumar Ramanathan and his Serbian partner Nikola Cacic were outplayed 4-6, 4-6 by the Italian team of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, the 15th seeds in men’s doubles.
The 27-year-old Ramkumar was also involved in the men’s singles qualifiers of the US Open but failed to qualify for the main draw after losing 3-6, 5-7 to USA’s Bruno Kuzuhara. Sumit Nagal and Yuki Bhambri also failed to make it past the qualifying rounds.
Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza was scheduled to play in the US Open but pulled out at the last minute due to an injury.