Rafael Nadal is back again in the finals of the Miami Open after beating unseeded Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5 in the semifinal clash.
The Spaniard has reached the finals of the Miami Open four times previously, but has never won the title. He made it to the finals at Key Biscayne in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014 but has lost them all. Nadal will be playing in the tournament for the 13th time and this makes his longest title drought at any event.
Nadal is pleased with the outcome of the match and said in a statement post the clash that he would want to win here at the Miami Open as it would be something great and an important title that he hasn’t won in his career. His opponent Sunday will be the winner of Friday night’s match between Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios. There will be a first-time Key Biscayne women’s champion Saturday when Caroline Wozniacki plays Johanna Konta.
Chasing a shot in the second set of Friday’s semifinal, Nadal lost his right sneaker and the point. But he quickly regained his footing and beat unseeded Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5.
Nadal, seeded fifth, eliminated Fognini without facing a break point, and lost only nine of 46 points on his serve. Fognini, the first unseeded men’s semifinalist since 2007, looked listless at the start in 86-degree sunshine. He finished with 38 unforced errors, compared with 12 for Nadal.
“I was missing a lot of balls,” Fognini said. “I give him a present the first set. I was playing really bad.”
Said Nadal: “Fabio is a player who is able to combine great points with mistakes. The match became strange _ not a lot of rhythm. The second set was tough.”
The crowd chanted Fognini’s first name in an attempt to get the Italian going, and flying footwear did the job. Fognini hit a drop shot to cause the sneaker malfunction, laughed at length while Nadal retied his shoe and played better after that.
Nadal said he also lost a shoe while practicing recently, the only other time he can remember it happening to him.
“Strange,” he said. “Maybe I need to tie it stronger.”
The second set was up for grabs until Fognini double-faulted to fall behind 6-5. Nadal then served out the match at love.
“I served well,” he said. “That gives you calm when you have opportunities on the return.”
Nadal improved to 19-4 this year and leads the men’s tour in wins.