Saturday, September 5, 2015

Nadal's slump continues with stunning loss in Open

Fabio Fognini, practicing at Indian Wells in March, beat Rafael
Nadal in the third round of the U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Rafael Nadal hit a new low in his mystifying slump late Friday night.
   For the first time, Nadal lost a Grand Slam match after leading two sets to none. Not only that, the 29-year-old Spaniard led by a break in the third set.
   Seeded uncharacteristically low at No. 8, the 14-time Grand Slam champion fell to No. 32 Fabio Fognini of Italy 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   The match lasted 3 hours, 46 minutes and ended at 1:27 EDT today.
   Nadal, 29, had been 151-0 after winning the first two sets in a Slam match.
   Fognini, 28, also ended Nadal's streak of winning at least once major title at 10 years. Nadal lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and French Open, which he had won five straight times and nine overall, and the second round at Wimbledon this year.
   The mercurial Fognini had 70 winners and 57 unforced errors Friday night.
   "You have to take risks (against Nadal)," said Fognini, who improved to 3-1 versus Nadal this year after going 0-4 against him previously. "Probably I make a lot of unforced errors, but it doesn't matter. You have to do that with a great player who runs a lot on the baseline.”
Rafael Nadal, also practicing at Indian Wells in
March, failed to win a Grand Slam title for the
first time since 2004. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Nadal, a left-hander with a two-handed backhand, has not been the same since missing last summer with a right wrist injury and underdoing an appendectomy last November.
   He said Fognini "played great. It was not a match that I lost, even if I had opportunities. It's a match that he won. So (I) accept. I'm not happy that he played better than me, but that's what happened.
   "I fought until the last point with a good attitude. But it was not enough to win today. I lost a couple of matches like that this year. ... I enjoyed the crowd. Was amazing support out there. Just a very special feeling to be out there with that support."
   Also losing were No. 7 seed David Ferrer of Spain, No. 10 Milos Raonic of Canada, No. 14 David Goffin of Belgium and No. 26 Tommy Robredo of Spain.
   Goffin, citing stomach problems, became the 13th man to retire during a match because of injury or illness. High heat and humidity have marked the first week.   
   No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic defeated No. 25 Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-3, 7-5, 7-5.
   On the women's side, No. 1 Serena Williams continued her quest for the first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1988 with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 victory over American wild card Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Williams won the last eight games.
   Williams will face No. 19 Madison Keys in the round of 16 on Sunday and could face her older sister, No. 23 Venus Williams, in the quarterfinals.
   Serena Williams beat Keys 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the Australian Open semifinals in January but needed nine match points.
   Northern California connection -- California natives Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey topped Leander Paes of India and Fernando Verdasco of Spain 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the second round of men's doubles.
   Johnson, orginally from Orange in the Los Angeles area, and Querrey, who was born in San Francisco, had ousted top-seeded Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the first round.
   Paes, 42, owns a career Grand Slam in men's doubles with eight overall titles, all with other partners.  
   Fourteenth-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues, the World TeamTennis co-Female MVP for the Sacramento-based California Dream in July, and Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain lost to Serbians Jelena Jankovic and Aleksandra Krunic 6-2, 6-2 in the second round of women's doubles.
   U.S. wild cards Nicole Gibbs, who starred at Stanford, and Taylor Townsend fell to 15th-seeded Lara Arruabarrena of Spain and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
   In the first round of mixed doubles, seventh-seeded Raquel Kops-Jones of San Jose and Raven Klaasen of South Africa edged Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia and Dominic Inglot of Great Britain 7-6 (3), 3-6 [10-5].

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