[CR8] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [CR32] Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Fognini, Nadal’s nemesis strikes again. Prior to 2015, Nadal had never lost a match to Fognini. Therefore, it was expected that 2015 would be no different; yet, the Nadal of this season is not the Nadal of days gone by, so anything was possible. When they met for the first time in 2015 on clay and Nadal won the first set easily, 6-1, everyone felt that things would continue in the same vein. However, let me reiterate, Nadal today is no longer the Nadal of old. He squanders leads and when he does win, it is accomplished with a lot of stumbling. He would lose that match, his first to Fognini in five tries. What made it so unexpected, despite his struggles, was that Nadal lost after a commanding performance in the first set and on clay.
I chalked it up to an anomaly, because I still believed in Nadal. When they met for the second time in 2015, again on clay and Nadal lost again, I admitted that Nadal was not getting his game back anytime soon. Although he won their third encounter, it was very shaky. Thus, when I saw that Fognini was his next opponent, I knew Nadal was in serious trouble. However, after Nadal won the first two sets, I believed that he would hold on to win this match without any drama. I was wrong. Nadal managed to lose the match in five sets, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 4-6. How does Nadal recover from this one? To lose a match at a Major after being up the first two sets is a psychological blow that will further destroy Nadal’s shaky confidence. What can Nadal do to change things going forward?