Rafael Nadal crashed out of the US Open in the third round after losing a five-set thriller to Italian Fabio Fognini at Flushing Meadows.
Remarkably Fognini came from two sets down to win 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 as former US Open champion Nadal lost in a Grand Slam for the first time having been two sets up. When Rafa won the first two sets, the contest seemed to be over. In the later part of the match something magical happened and Fognini, world number 32, bounced back to achieve a sensational victory.
The defeat ensured the Spaniard would be without a Grand Slam win in a calendar year for the first time since 2004. It is also the earliest Nadal, world number eight, has been eliminated from US Open since a third round exit at the hands of American James Blake in 2005.
“The only thing this means is I played worse than the last ten years,” said the 14-time Grand Slam winner. “That’s the real thing. By the way, for me it was amazing to win 10 years in a row a Grand Slam title.”
Earlier this year, two-time US Open winner lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open to Czech Tomas Berdych and the last eight at the French Open to Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic, before he was eliminated in the second round of Wimbledon by German qualifier Dustin Brown.
The 28-year-old Italian, who had lost his last seven matches on hard courts coming into US Open, played magnificently from the third set on against an opponent he had beaten twice this season. Clay court specialist Fognini is into the fourth round at Flushing Midows for the first time and faces Feliciano Lopez of Spain.
“I can’t describe how happy I am,” said Fognini. “It was very tough. To do it against Rafa, two sets down – it was an incredible match,” he added. IMAGE/AFP/DON EMMERT