Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal nearly takes out line judge during Fabio Fognini clash and still wins point!

Nadal had seen off Denis Shapovalov in straight sets on Thursday to set up a quarter-final meeting with Fognini.

The Spaniard has only been beaten twice on clay since the beginning of 2017 with both defeats coming against Dominic Thiem, one at this stage in Rome last year and the most recent in Madrid earlier this month.

And Fognini was reminded of the size of the task before him in the early stages of the last-eight match when he found himself break point down in the fourth game, serving at 1-2.

Rafael NadalGETTY

Rafael Nadal was in typically energetic form in Rome

The Italian must have thought he had got himself out of trouble with an angled crosscourt backhand, only for the famously energetic Nadal to run the ball down and scoop it back over the net just before it bounced for the second time.

The world No 2’s momentum almost carried him into the baseline judge, who recoiled in anticipation, but Nadal kept his footing and sprinted back into position as Fognini volleyed the ball into the open court.

But Nadal’s speed was in play again as he somehow tracked down the ball on the other side of the court and arrowed a backhand down the line to seal the first break of the match.

One fan on Twitter, Guhan Ganesamurthi, said: “That is a Hope Killer.”

It did not prove decisive though as Fognini battled back, breaking in games seven and nine to take the first set 6-4 and leave Nadal teetering on the edge of a shock defeat in Rome.

But the “King of Clay” roared back once again to take the second set 6-1 and force a decider.

The seven-time Italian Open champion had come into the match under no illusions about the threat carried by Fognini in front of a partisan Roman crowd.

“[Fognini] a great player,” Nadal said.

“He has a big talent and he’s playing at home so it will be a tough one.

“Let’s see how things go and I hope to be ready for it.”

Posted on; Express.co.uk>>

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