Played one of my worst matches on clay in 14 years: Nadal after Monte Carlo exit

first_imgPlayed one of my worst matches on clay in 14 years: Nadal after Monte Carlo exitFabio Fognini had beaten Rafael Nadal twice before on clay, and also once at the U.S. Open in five sets, but Saturday’s win in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-final was arguably the most impressive.advertisement Next Associated Press Monte CarloApril 21, 2019UPDATED: April 21, 2019 09:22 IST Rafa Nadal’s loss ended a series of 25 consecutive sets won on his favourite surface clay (Reuters Photo)HIGHLIGHTSFabio Fognini stunned defending champion Nadal 6-4, 6-2 in the semisIt was Fognini’s fourth career win against Nadal in 15 encountersNadal’s defeat ended his hopes of matching Roger Federer’s record of 50 Masters finalsFabio Fognini ended Rafael Nadal’s winning streak at the Monte Carlo Masters, stunning the defending champion 6-4, 6-2 Saturday to reach the final for the first time and hand Nadal his first defeat here since a loss to Novak Djokovic in the 2015 semifinals.Fognini had beaten Nadal twice before on clay, and also once at the U.S. Open in five sets, but this was arguably the most impressive.”I have the game to play against him,” the 13th-seeded Fognini said. “I had nothing to lose.”He wasn’t concerned if Nadal was out of form.”That’s not the question that I have to answer,” Fognini said. “I just say that I played an incredible match.”Still, the second-ranked Nadal called it “one of my worst matches in 14 years” and the 32-year-old Spaniard said it was “difficult to find an explanation” for capitulating on his favored clay-court surface.Yet the defeat could have been even more humiliating for Nadal, who had not lost a set here by 6-0 since the 2005 final – which he went on to win for the first of his record 11 titles.Fognini came so close to drubbing him in the second set. He served for the match at 5-0 and 40-0, but Nadal saved three match points, broke back and held.The crowd on their feet for @fabiofognaReply with your GIF reaction to that result pic.twitter.com/EPclbqsOT4ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) April 20, 2019″I was lucky to win the two games,” said Nadal, who had not even lost a set here since conceding one in the second round against Britain’s Kyle Edmund in 2017. “I played one of my worst matches on clay in 14 years. It’s difficult to find any positives — I deserved to lose,” he added.advertisementServing again for the match at 5-2, Fognini hit a superb forehand down the line on his fourth match point. He next plays unseeded Serb Dusan Lajovic in their first-ever meeting, and one few would have predicted.Least of all Fognini.A for @RafaelNadal.Until next time #RolexMCMasters pic.twitter.com/uc0qgNmQZ6ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) April 20, 2019He trailed by a set and 4-1 down during his first-round match against Andrey Rublev.”If you told me at the beginning of the week ‘See you on Sunday (for the final),’ I would laugh in your face,” Fognini said.The 48th-ranked Lajovic staged an impressive comeback of his own, meanwhile, rallying from 5-1 down to beat 10th-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-1.That match was a suitable appetizer to the higher drama which followed.Nadal had dropped his first three service games Friday in his quarterfinal against Guido Pella, and the early signs were not good this time.His first game against Fognini lasted 12 minutes, with Nadal saving four break points before conceding the first of six breaks of serve in the match.A moment @fabiofogna will never forget…: @TennisTV | #RolexMCMasters pic.twitter.com/l88hDmcuuLATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) April 20, 2019In his quarterfinal and semifinal combined, Nadal conceded 23 break-point chances.But whether Fognini, who previously lost 11 times to Nadal overall, could capitalize seemed uncertain.The 31-year-old Italian can lose his temper on court, and it got the better of him during the fourth game.With heavy winds swirling around the court, Fognini’s towel flew off his seat and landed on the clay during the first point. He complained to the umpire, perhaps to get the point replayed, and then angrily put the offending towel into his drinks box.Nadal broke him to love to lead 3-1, and Fognini got a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.”The chair umpire made a bad call,” Fognini said. “He gave me a warning for nothing.”Fognini irate, Nadal serving for a 4-1 lead – another comfortable Nadal route to the final looked on.But Fognini broke back to 3-2 and then broke Nadal to love in the ninth game with some momentous shot-making.Momentum was on Fognini’s side, not to mention some luck.Serving for the set at 5-4 and 30-30, his shot hit the net and turned into a perfect drop shot.WHAT a way to finish the setCatch the second set of this epic SF showdown on @TennisTV pic.twitter.com/aZSZZ7bwilATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) April 20, 2019Fognini raised both arms in apology, and then superbly put away a volley at full stretch on the next point to clinch the set.He hit a delightful two-handed, backhand cross-court winner to break at the start of the second set.Nadal is usually the undisputed crowd favorite on the French Riviera, but shouts of “Fabio, Fabio, Fabio” rang out at the Monte Carlo Country Club.advertisementMany Italian fans likely made the short trip along the coast from nearby San Remo – where Fognini grew up.”It’s a big opportunity to them to come here and watch me play,” Fognini said. “I don’t know how many are coming tomorrow.”Still, he should have most of the support against Lajovic, who earlier won 10 straight games to lead 4-0 in the second set before Medvedev finally again held serve.It could have been an all-Serb semifinal but Medvedev knocked out the top-ranked Djokovic in Friday’s quarterfinals.There have only been three winners here since 2005: Nadal, Djokovic (2013 and ’15) and Stan Wawrinka (’14).A new name will be on the trophy on Sunday.Also Watch:For sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byrohan sen Tags :Follow Rafael NadalFollow Fabio FogniniFollow Monte Carlo MastersFollow ATPFollow ATP Masterslast_img

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