She leaned forward, yelled and shook both fists, victory almost hers. He never made it past the quarterfinals in any of the four major tournaments this season.
The target emerged on Saturday in the wake of the eighth seed’s defeat in five sets. He then was eliminated by Novak Djokovic in the quarters of the French Open, lost to Dustin Brown in spectacular fashion at the All England Club and finally suffered his 15th loss of the year with this lacklustre performance.
The statistics reflected the extent to which Fognini dictated play, with the Italian striking 70 winners to just 30 for Nadal. In that last set, Fognini blazed a scarcely credible 20 winners, together with one wristy forehand up the road that the watching commentator John McEnroe judged to be “not potential”.
Fognini had unleashed 50 winners to Nadal’s 24 while the Spaniard had converted just five of 14 break points.
Despite losing in the third round of the US Open to Fabio Fognini, Rafael Nadal insists he is making improvements.
18 of the last 21 players who defeated Rafa lost in the next round, and in the same tournament! The last Italian man to get that far at the U.S. Open was Davide Sanguinetti a decade ago.
“Yes, at the beginning, first set, I was struggling”, he said. “But I win. Everything was in a flawless way”.
The stunning result confirmed the sad, sudden decline of the 14-time major victor who, until this encounter, had won 151 grand slam matches when he had taken the first two sets.
As for Nadal, his defeat by Italy’s Fabio Fognini on Friday means this will be his first year without a Grand Slam title since 2004. By the end of the fourth set, the statistics were telling. Frenchman Jeremy Chardy provided the upset of the day dispatching seventh seeded David Ferrer 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 and the Spaniard was joined at the exit by Canadian 10th seed Milos Raonic who was beaten 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-3 by Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
This year will mark the first year since 2005 that Rafael Nadal will not win at least one Grand Slam title – a record 10-year run, which eclipses greats like Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer (all on eight years). “Geez”, Williams said, rolling her eyes.
“I will be 34 in September so it’s a great feeling to be playing like this and reaching my first US Open quarter-final”, said the left-hander.
“Just hanging in there, trying to create my own pace and control the rallies”, Djokovic said. Fellow American, Bethanie Mattek-Sands played some fabulous tennis upfront to clinch the opening set 6-3 as the younger Williams received a rude jolt.
“Her determination is unlike anyone else’s”, Keys said. Knowing the tempestuous, unstable Italian, he will probably lose the match.
Look back at Nadal’s French Open defeat and there’s reason to hope.
In a five-set, four-hour-plus match, defending champ, Marin Cilic of Croatia beat Mikhail Kukushin of Kazakhstan 6-7(5), 7-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-1.