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Tennis legend Rafael Nadal was left bloodied during his second-round US Open win over Fabio Fognini after the world no3 unintentionally hit himself in the face midway through the fourth set.
The King of Clay, 36, was returning a backhand in the opening point of the fourth game when his racket smashed into the Flushing Meadows hard court with the ricochet bouncing the frame back into his face.
The incident left Nadal gushing blood from the bridge of his nose and the Spaniard was forced to take a lengthy medical timeout, returning with a plaster on the affected area.
READ MORE: Rafael Nadal's wife admitted to hospital and will not support him at US Open
Returning to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court, Nadal recovered to claim a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 victory and seal his place in the third round of the US Open. The 22-time Grand Slam winner, four of them coming at Flushing Meadows, is scheduled to face Richard Gasquet on Saturday where he will look to maintain his unbeaten major status in 2022.
Nadal claimed victories in the opening two Grand Slams in Melbourne and Paris before retiring in the semi-finals of Wimbledon to hand opponent Nick Kyrgios a first-ever last-four walkover.
HAVE YOUR SAY! Will Rafael Nadal claim his 23rd Grand Slam by winning the US Open? Let us know in the comments section.
The Spaniard was a doubt for the US Open following his one warm-up match against Borna Coric but battled back from his abdominal tear with the aim of extending his outright lead as the most decorated tennis star of all time.
"At the beginning, I thought I broke the nose because it was a shock. It was very painful," Nadal told reporters after battling back from a set down against Fognini. "[There’s a] little bit of pain but [I’m feeling] good. Happy after a terrible start.
"I don’t understand yet how I started that bad because the feeling before the match was good. But these kind of things sometimes happen so you need to accept and keep going.
"That’s what I did. I was lucky that Fabio made some mistakes and I was able to start putting some balls in and finished the match playing obviously better, much better.
"I am practising much, much better than what I am playing. That’s a positive thing. Then I need to make that happen in the matches."
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- Rafael Nadal
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