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Rediff.com  » Sports » US Open PIX: Nadal rallies to advance; Alcaraz, Swiatek cruise

US Open PIX: Nadal rallies to advance; Alcaraz, Swiatek cruise

Last updated on: September 02, 2022 11:05 IST
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A summary of Thursday's action at the US Open.

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his second round match against Fabio Fognini of Italy. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal overcame a horrid start and a bloody nose to beat Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 and reach the third round of the US Open on Thursday.

 

The veteran Italian came out flying to build a set and a 4-2 lead as Nadal struggled to find a rhythm, raising the possibility of an upset like the one Fognini memorably pulled off against the Spaniard at Arthur Ashe Stadium seven years ago.

Nadal steadied the ship and looked to be cruising to the finish line when, while leading 3-0 in the fourth set, he was struck on the nose by his racket when it hit the court and bounced back sharply.

That led to a medical time out where the 22-time Grand Slam champion lay on his back with his eyes closed as a pink bandage was applied to stop the bleeding.

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal was struck on the nose by his racket when it hit the court and bounced back sharply. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Nadal regrouped and with the backing of the partisan crowd sealed the win on Fognini's 60th unforced error to end the ugly affair in which the players combined for 15 breaks of serve and 11 double faults.

"For more than one-and-a-half hours I was not competing, it was one of my worst starts ever," Nadal said in an on-court interview.

"When this happens, hopefully not too often, you have to stay positive and stay patient. The match is long."

Next up for Nadal is Richard Gasquet, who defeated Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-4 earlier in the day.

Nadal is 18-0 lifetime against the Frenchman.

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates victory over Argentina's Federico Coria in the second round of the US Open on Thursday.

IMAGE: Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates victory over Argentina's Federico Coria in the second round of the US Open on Thursday. Photograph: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Teenager Carlos Alcaraz fended off a late push from veteran Argentine Federico Coria to emerge with a 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 win and reach the third round, where he will face American Jenson Brooksby.

The young Spaniard used his all-court speed and punishing forehand to win the final 10 points of the first set and broke Coria's serve to open the second to cruise to a 2-0 sets lead.

 

Coria refused to go down without a fight and pushed Alcaraz in a marathon game at 4-4 in the third set.

But the third seed, who saved 14 of the 15 break points he faced in the match, rifled two unreturnable serves to get out of trouble and sealed the win with a two-handed backhand for his 46th victory of the year.

"It's been a great year for me but it's not the end of the year," Alcaraz said.

"I am very happy to be the player with the most victories but I have to look forward and go for it."

Carlos Alcaraz and Federico Coria meet at the net after their second round match.

IMAGE: Carlos Alcaraz and Federico Coria meet at the net after their second round match. Photograph: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Next up Alcaraz is a meeting with Brooksby, who beat Cincinnati Open champion and 25th seed Borna Coric 6-4, 7-6(10), 6-1 earlier in the day.

The Californian saved seven set points in the tense second set to reach the third round at Flushing Meadows for the second consecutive year. Last year, he took the first set off Novak Djokovic before falling to the tournament's finalist.

"I was proud of my mental resolve to be able to save a lot of set points like that in a row and just stay in the present," Brooksby told reporters.

"I was able to focus on what I have been working on, and to see that come through today is a great feeling."

Brooksby's emphatic shouts of "Come on!" got under Coric's skin leading the Croatian to tell the chair umpire that while he respected the 21-year-old's fight, "It's a bit too much, it's every point".

Brooksby said he used Coric's frustration to his advantage.

"That's definitely a time if the opponent is frustrated, I can see this is the time to stay focused and stay on him and try to break him down," he said.

"Whoever that is or whatever situation that is, it's always a good thing to see."

Top-ranked Swiatek cruises past former champion Stephens

Iga Swiatek

IMAGE: Poland’s Iga Swiatek serves against Sloane Stephens. Photograph: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

World number one Iga Swiatek chipped away at American Sloane Stephens's defensive play to roll into the third round with a 6-3, 6-2 victory on her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut.

The 2017 champion Stephens saved eight of 12 break points but once again could not fend off the Pole's offensive barrage after losing to her in straight sets last month in the Cincinnati third round.

Swiatek, who collected her second Roland Garros title this year amid an extraordinary 37-match winning streak, sent 14 winners over the net - twice as many as her opponent - and won more than three-quarters of her first-serve points.

Playing on the court where she watched 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams as a junior, the Indian Wells and Miami winner traded breaks with Stephens early in the first set before converting on the fourth try in the fourth game.

She pounced on the momentum as Stephens' serve deteriorated in the second set, winning the first four games and pumping her fist after forcing the American into a backhand error to close out the affair.

"I'm pretty happy with my focus today. I think I did better than in Cincinnati," said Swiatek, 21, who will hope to down another American in front of the home crowd when she faces Lauren Davis in the next round. Davis beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(10-5).

"Just being on a stadium here downstairs, not there (in the stands), is pretty awesome."

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