After their shocking meeting at the Rio Open several months ago, where a momentous upset brought an end to the clay court king’s impressive semi-final win streak on the red dust, Rafael Nadal will have the opportunity to avenge his earlier loss to Fabio Fognini when they meet in the third round in Barcelona on Thursday. This marks the sixth time that the two competitors will cross paths on the ATP World Tour, with Nadal leading the head-to-head series 4-1.
Although faced with a less-than-ideal opening match in Barcelona, Rafael Nadal dispatched Nicolas Almagro in straight sets to start his campaign in solid fashion. He defeated his fellow countryman 6-3, 6-1 in an uneventful match that only saw a marathon final game before Nadal closed out the contest on his fifth attempt.
“I had a few mistakes in that game,” he said. “It was a strange finish, but a very solid performance, so I’m very happy for that.”
His upcoming opponent is Fabio Fognini, who defeated Russian youngster Andrey Rublev in three sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 to reach the third round in Barcelona. He struck seven aces, won 70% of his first service points and converted six break points to close out the match in one hour and 43 minutes.
This marks the sixth time that Nadal and Fognini will meet on the professional tour, with Nadal leading the series 4-1. His only blemish came in their most recent encounter against the Italian, and to the surprise of many, it occurred on his beloved clay court surface. Fognini rallied back from a set down to defeat the Spaniard 1-6, 6-2, 7-5, thus putting an end to Nadal’s remarkable 52-match win streak in ATP World Tour level semi-finals on clay. The Spaniard will look to avenge that loss en route to the quarter-final round of the tournament.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets