China Open Preview – Rafael Nadal v Fabio Fognini

I’m not to sure if one player has beaten Rafa Nadal four times in one year however Fabio Fognini certainly has a chance of doing that. At the beginning of the year Nadal led the head to head at 4-0 against Fognini however the Italian has gotten the better of the Spaniard on three occasions this year with the head to head still in Nadal’s favour at 5-3 but will it become 5-4 or 6-3?

If I had to chose one word to describe Nadal’s week in Beijing so far then I’d have to say unconvincing. I’ve seen him play twice this week and I still feel like he’s a million miles away from how we know how he can play. He has fought well through matches but has struggled to find daylight against opponents you’d expect him to sail past.

Fognini on the other hand is completely unpredictable. You never know what your going to get however he has been playing well this year. I think with the way he plays and his movement on the court he can rattle Nadal as we have seen this year and right now I’d see no reason why he can’t defeat him for the fourth time this year. Nadal has to look to be getting Fognini on the move, he can’t look to be sitting on the baseline and needs that forehand with spin and pace to cause problems. I saw Nadal play Nishikori a couple of months ago and he just didn’t move him around enough and he took his game apart.

Their last meeting was of course in New York where Nadal was two sets and a break up against Fognini and lost in five sets which was just incredible to be in that position and lose especially for a player of his quality. I do want Nadal to win this one as I would be interested to see how he potentially does against Novak Djokovic in the final and what the difference with Nadal and the best in world tennis right now is.

If Nadal loses then this it will be his 16th loss of 2015 and will be the first time since 2004 (when he was 18 years old) that he has lost at least 16 matches in one calendar year. In 2004 he lost 17.

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