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.
US Open results on Thursday (x denotes seed; players representing Russia and Belarus are banned from competing under the name or flag of their countries):
Ilya Ivashka bt Hubert Hurkacz (POL x8) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA x26) bt Gijs Brouwer (NED) 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Brandon Nakashima (USA) bt Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x17) 7-6 (7/5), 7-5, 6-3
Jannik Sinner (ITA x11) bt Christopher Eubanks (USA) 6-4, 7-6 (10/8), 6-2
Marin Cilic (CRO x15) bt Albert Ramos Vinolas (ESP) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
Dan Evans (GBR x20) bt James Duckworth (AUS) 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Jenson Brooksby (USA) bt Borna Coric (CRO x25) 6-4, 7-6 (12/10), 6-1
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP x3) bt Federico Coria (ARG) 6-2, 6-1, 7-5
Cameron Norrie (GBR x7) bt Joao Sousa (POR) 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
Holger Rune (DEN x28) bt John Isner (USA) – walkover
Denis Shapovalov (CAN x19) bt Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Andrey Rublev (x9) bt Kwon Soon-woo (KOR) 6-3, 6-0, 6-4
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x14) bt Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 7-6 (8/6)
Frances Tiafoe (USA x22) bt Jason Kubler (AUS) 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 7-6 (7/2)
Richard Gasquet (FRA) bt Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB x32) 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1
Iga Swiatek (POL x1) bt Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-3, 6-2
Lauren Davis (USA) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (x28) 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10/5)
Jule Niemeier (GER) bt Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4, 6-3
Zheng Qinwen (CHN) bt Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3)
Garbine Muguruza (ESP x9) bt Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE) 6-0, 6-4
Petra Kvitova (CZE x21) bt Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) – walkover
Yuan Yue (CHN) bt Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6)
Jessica Pegula (USA x8) bt Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 6-4
Petra Martic (CRO) bt Paula Badosa (ESP x4) 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2
Victoria Azarenka (x26) bt Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-2, 6-3
Karolina Pliskova (CZE x22) bt Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-3, 6-2
Belinda Bencic (SUI x13) bt Sorana Cirstea (ROM) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2
Alize Cornet (FRA) bt Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
Danielle Collins (USA x19) bt Cristina Bucsa (ESP) 6-2, 7-5
Clara Burel (FRA) bt Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Aryna Sabalenka (x6) bt Kaia Kanepi (EST) 2-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4