Rafael Nadal’s quest for Monte Carlo Masters career title No. 12 ended in stunning fashion Saturday in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, as he fell to Italian Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-2.
The world No. 2-ranked Nadal, of Spain, dropped 11 of 14 games after going up 3-1 in the first set. Heading into Saturday, we was riding an 18-match winning streak at the clay tournament.
"I played one of my worst matches on clay in 14 years," Nadal said. "It's difficult to find any positives — I deserved to lose."
Up 5-0 in the second set amid windy conditions, Fognini nearly ended an even more impressive streak of Nadal’s: the all-time great has not been “bageled” – shut out – in a set on clay since 2007, according to the New York Times’ Ben Rothenberg.
Last time Nadal was bageled on clay:— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) April 20, 2019
2007 Hamburg final vs Federer (2-6, 6-2, 6-0).
Nadal, 32, fought back to 5-2 before Fognini closed it out.
Beating the all-time great was not unprecedented for the world No. 18 Fognini, however. This was his fourth career win over Nadal in 15 chances, and the third time he did so on clay.
He’ll face No. 48-ranked Dusan Lajovic, of Serbia, in the final; both players are first-time Masters finalists.
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