Rafael Nadal overcame accidentally hitting himself in the face with his own racket to beat Fabio Fognini in the second round of the US Open.
The 36-year-old had to fight back from a slow start to beat Fognini in four sets 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-1 on Thursday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
But the win came with a scary moment in what was supposed to be the final set, one that left the 22-time Grand Slam champion bloodied.
As the Spaniard stretched to return a backhand to Fognini, Nadal’s racket bounced off the court and inadvertently hit him in the face.
Nadal immediately picked his nose, dropped his racket and lost the point. He lay down on the court next to the umpire’s chair and moved his hand away from his nose, showing the blood that had begun to flow.
He needed a medical timeout to get the injury attended to, and then closed the set again. After the win, Nadal played down the injury, saying he felt “a little sore, to be honest, but fine”.
“(It was) just a big hit. At first, I thought I (broke) my nose because it was a shock at first. It was very painful,” Nadal explained.
“I’ve lost a bit of feeling in my head, I don’t know how to say it in English. It’s about being a bit out of the world.
“I don’t know, it doesn’t seem to be (broken). I’m not sure yet. I don’t know. I think it’s getting bigger and bigger.”
He joked with a smile, “No, this is just a shock that I somehow deserved to play so badly for a while!”
As well as coming back from a bloody nose, Nadal also had to fight back from a rare bad start.
The Spaniard committed 27 unforced errors in the first two sets, losing his serve five times, including four in a row. He called it “one of the worst starts, probably ever.”
“But that’s part of the game. You have to be humble, you have to accept the situation. It hasn’t been an easy month for me, so I know this kind of thing can happen. It’s another chance for me. I’m still alive afterwards from a game like this. That means a lot.”
The win means he will play Richard Gasquet in the third round of the US Open. Nadal has a good record against the Frenchman, winning all 17 matches.