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Rafael Nadal will revisit his rivalry with Fabio Fognini on Thursday night as the pair close out the Arthur Ashe Stadium night session with the eighteenth match of their careers. It is a matchup that the Fognini of old has had some luck with, winning four of them including their 2015 epic in which the Italian came from a set down.
Nadal is still unbeaten at slams this year after a four set win against Rinky Hijikata moved that record to 2-0. He did start slowly against the wildcard, but found his groove midway through to complete the comeback win from a set down. “I think I started not that bad the first couple of games, but then I had some opportunities that I was not able to make it,” Nadal said. “I think I didn’t play a good game with my serve. Then he had the break. Then I was a little bit nervous.”
With a losing record at tour level in 2022, things haven’t gone as great for Fognini as he looks on the tail-end of his career at 35. He had lost in the first round in New York on three of the last four occasions and it looked like he would add to that against Aslan Karatsev, only to come from two sets down to down the Russian 1-6 5-7 6-4 6-1 6-4.
It seems unlikely that Fognini has the stamina to tough out a win again Nadal at this stage of his career, especially after a lengthy opener himself. He will need to take advantage of a slow start as otherwise Nadal has shown he grows into tournaments time and again, confident that his body will not let him down.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in three sets
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