Rafael Nadal’s nose bloodied by own racket at U.S. Open in victory

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NEW YORK – Rafael Nadal cut himself on the bridge of his nose with his own racket when it ricocheted off the court on the follow-through from a shot, leaving himself bloodied and dizzy during his second-round victory at the U.S. Open.

Play was delayed for about five minutes during a medical timeout in the fourth set of what would become a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 win against Fabio Fognini at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It made for a bizarre, and briefly scary, scene, as Nadal immediately grimaced, dropped his racket, put a palm to his face and then placed both hands on his head. He said at his post-match news conference he thought right away that he might have broken his nose, which kept swelling.

He said it was a “shock” when it happened and he felt “a little bit out of the world.”

Still, Nadal managed to joke about it all. Asked during his on-court interview whether he’d ever had that happen before, he mustered a chuckle and replied: “With a golf club but not with a tennis racket.”

How was he feeling?

“Well, just a little bit dizzy at the beginning,” said Nadal, who has won four of his 22 Grand Slam titles at the U.S. Open, most recently in 2019, the last time he entered the hard-court tournament. “A little bit painful.”

The episode came on the first point of the game with Nadal leading 3-0 in the fourth set and clearly in command after ceding the opening set for the second match in a row this week.

The 36-year-old from Spain was moving to his right when he hit a backhand. After making contact with the ball, his racket deflected off the ground and smacked him on the nose.

He went over to the sideline and layed down, waiting for the trainer, and Fognini went over to check on Nadal.

“He told me everything was OK,” Fognini said later. “I hope it’s nothing serious.”

After having a bandage put on his nose, Nadal resumed play. He would lose that game, but not another, improving to 21-0 in Grand Slam matches in 2022.

Nadal won the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June for his 14th title there, then made it to the Wimbledon semifinals in July before the abdominal issue forced him to withdraw (which does not go into the books as a loss).

The match against Fognini, who beat him at the 2015 U.S. Open, did not begin auspiciously for Nadal. His shots were off and he quickly fell behind.

“For more than one hour and a half, I was not competing,” Nadal said. “One of the worst starts, probably, ever.”

The second set was hardly a thing of beauty for either man, filled with poor play by both: They combined for 39 unforced errors and merely nine winners, seven service breaks and only three holds.

“I was lucky, honestly, that Fabio made some mistakes in that second set,” Nadal acknowledged.

When Nadal dumped a backhand into the net, Fognini broke to lead 3-2, then went ahead 4-2. But from there, it was Fognini who faltered, missing four shots in a row to get broken at love as part of a four-game run by Nadal to make it a set apiece.

“With Nadal, you can’t mess around,” Fognini said. “I let him back in the match and he kept getting better from there.”

In the third, Nadal came up with one particularly perfect shot – a forehand on the run that redirected an overhead by Fognini and sent it down the line for a winner to break for 4-2. Nadal’s momentum carried him right to the edge of the stands, where thousands were on their feet, and he punched the air and yelled, “Vamos!”

Not long after, that set belong to Nadal, too, and he would collect 16 of the last 19 games.

Top-seeded Sakkari reaches semifinals at Parma Ladies Open

Maria Sakkari
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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past 97th-ranked Maryna Zanevska 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday at the Parma Ladies Open to reach her first semifinal since the grass-court season.

Sakkari, who has gone three sets in all three of her matches this week, will face Danka Kovinic for a spot in the final of the clay-court event after Kovinic beat Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 6-4.

In her previous semifinal, Sakkari lost to Belinda Bencic in Berlin in June. The seventh-ranked Greek player was eliminated by Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open on Aug. 31.

In the bottom half of the draw, Mayar Sherif of Egypt beat American opponent Lauren Davis 7-6 (2), 6-3 to reach her second career semifinal. Sherif next faces Ana Bogdan, who defeated fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Sakkari through to Parma Open quarterfinals; Stephens loses

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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Parma Ladies Open.

Sakkari, who accepted a late wild card to the red clay court tournament, was playing her first event since losing to Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open.

The Greek player will next face Maryna Zanevska of Belgium after she eased past Dalma Galfi 6-1, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, lost to Danka Kovinic 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

Kovinic will face Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals after the Italian defeated compatriot Elisabetta Cocciaretto 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

There will be an American in the final eight, however, as Lauren Davis rallied to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Sorribes Tormo had eliminated second-seeded Martina Trevisan in straight sets in the opening round.

Davis will play Mayar Sherif after the Egyptian player defeated Simona Waltert 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Also, third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania eased past Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan, who beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.