Malta Independent

Rafael Nadal calls loss to Fognini ‘one of my worst matches on clay in 14 years’


Rafael Nadal reflected on “one of the worst matches” he had played on clay in his career after crashing to a shock defeat by Fabio Fognini in the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Five weeks before the French Open, the 11-times Monte Carlo champion was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by the flamboyant Italian and gave a blunt assessment of his performanc­e after Fognini wrapped up victory in one hour and 36 minutes.

Nadal said: “I played one of my worst matches on clay in 14 years. It’s difficult to find any positives. I played a very bad game against a good player, so in that situation you have to lose.”

Fognini’s win was all the more remarkable given he entered the tournament in poor form and had trailed his first-round opponent Andrey Rublev 6-4, 4-1 before rallying for victory.

Nadal’s loss ended a run of 25 consecutiv­e sets won on his favourite surface as Fognini set up a final against Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.

In windy conditions at the Monte Carlo Country Club, Nadal was overwhelme­d by Fognini, who entered centre court with all guns blazing. Fognini’s unpredicta­bility, added to that of the weather conditions, were eventually too much for the Spanish world No 2, who lost 11 of 14 games after going 3-1 up in the first set.

He finally bowed out on the fourth match point, having saved three of these while 5-0 down in the second set and – having fended off the prospect of a rare bagel – Nadal recovered to 5-2, but his opponent closed out at the next serving opportunit­y.

It was Fognini’s fourth career win against Nadal in 15 encounters, and the world number No 18’s the third on clay.

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