Rafael Nadal lost the opening set and had to overcome a bizarre nose injury which left his feeling spaced out during his US Open second round win over Fabio Fognini.

The Spaniard dropped his racket after attempting a backhand, only for it to bounce back up and smack him in the nose during the fourth set. Nadal won the match 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 but was left dizzy by the freak incident.

The US Open favourite had to walk back to his chair immediately after the fall to clean his nose, which was bloodied by the rebounding racket. “It was just a strong hit,” he said afterwards.

“At the beginning I thought I broke the nose because it was a shock at the beginning. It was very painful. I lost a little bit of the feeling in my head.

“It’s about being a little bit out of the world. I think it’s getting bigger and bigger. That’s just a shock some way I deserved to play that bad for a while. No, it’s a joke. These are things that happen sometimes.

“I knew that when I came back on court I was going to be in trouble for a while.

Rafael Nadal cut

“But I needed to save that service game. I had a couple of good serves and a good passing shot with the backhand. I won the game.

“Tennis is a lot about moments. The most important thing in this game is when you are playing bad or when the opponent is playing too good, don’t be too far on the score.”

Nadal, aged 36, is hoping for a record-extending 23rd major title at the US Open but was given a shock by Fognini losing the first set 2-6.

Rafael Nadal cut

Rafael Nadal has shown chinks in his armor at Flushing Meadows also losing the opening set in his first round match against Australian Rinky Hijikata. Against Fognini the world number three made 27 unforced errors in the first two sets and dropped serve five times.

“I don’t understand yet how I started that bad because the feeling before the match was good,” added Nadal. “I was lucky that Fabio made some mistakes and I was able to start putting some balls in and finished the match playing obviously better, much better.

“I am practising much, much better than what I am playing. That’s a positive thing. Then I need to make that happen in the matches.”

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