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Nadal sees off Fognini challenge

This content was published 4 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Rafael Nadal came back from a set down to defeat Fabio Fognini and advance to the semi-finals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for the first time since 2014.

The world No. 2 ultimately proved too much for his opponent, who recorded an incredible comeback from 1-4 down to win the first set. While the Italian showed flashes of his brilliant best as he won five games on the bounce in the opener, he couldn’t sustain that level, going down 4-6 6-1 6-2.

The 4-1 scoreline early in the first set was not a fair reflection of what was an incredibly close opening few games. With Nadal scampering around the court retrieving every ball and Fognini taking the Spaniard’s forehand on the rise, the quality of the match was high with Nadal clinching the key points to make the difference.

It all changed in the sixth game when a backhand cross-court winner brought up three break points for Fognini. While they all went begging he didn’t miss a fourth opportunity, digging deep to hit a forehand winner and recover the break.

From then on the seven-time Rome champion really began to feel the pressure, his unforced error count started to rise and he couldn’t match Fognini who was playing extraordinary tennis. Buoyed on by a vociferous home crowd Fognini controlled the points and hit some flashy winners on his way to clinching the first set.

Fognini’s matches are often a rollercoaster and this one was no different. While he had been riding high at the back end of the opening set, it was a very different story in the second. Nadal started playing more on his forehand and moved to 3-0 before the world No. 21 was able to get a game on the board, and then won the next three games to level it up.

Under no pressure from the 30-year-old, Nadal continued his aggressive display to cruise through the third set and close out the match in two hours 14 minutes.

“I feel that is an important victory for me, coming back from a set against. First time since I came back that I was one set against and I won. So, there’s a lot of positive things out of the match today,” said Nadal.

Nadal will meet either No. 11 seed Novak Djokovic or Kei Nishikori in Saturday’s semi-final.

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