Rafael Nadal was made to work early for his win on Friday at the Italian Open, but was able to prevail as he defeated Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
It was an unchratacteristic 1st set for the #2 player in the world as he went up 4-1, but then allowed Fabio to win the next 5 games to take the set. Fognini knew he needed to play aggressive and that is exactly what he did to take the lead.
In the 2nd and 3rd sets, Nadal amped up his play, while Fognini’s high level of play came down a notch. After breaking the Italian’s serve a couple of times in each set, Nadal was soon celebrating the win when, on match point, Fognini’s forehand sailed out.
An upset ended up not being in the cards for the Italian this time. Of course, Fognini’s most famous win against Rafa came at the US Open in 2015 when Nadal had a two set to nothing lead against him but Fognini put on a blistering display of shot-making to stage an amazing comeback to win in five sets.
Rafa now leads the head to head match-up 11-3.
Nadal is trying to bounce back from his quarter-final loss to Dominic Thiem at last week’s Madrid Open. That loss caused him to lose his #1 ranking to Federer. If he is able to win the title in Rome this week then he will move back up to #1 right before the French Open begins.
With the win, it will be Nadal’s 10th semi-final appearance at the Italian open. He will now move on to face the winner of the Djokovic-Nishikori match that is set for later on Friday.
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