Rival appears to question Nadal injury claims
Italian star Fabio Fognini has appeared to doubt Rafael Nadal’s injury struggles after the Spaniard overcame Taylor Fritz in a five-set Wimbledon quarterfinal battle on Wednesday during which Nadal seemed to battle with abdominal pain. Fognini later said that his comments on social media had simply been misinterpreted, and that he wished Nadal well.
Nadal frequently appeared ill at ease during the Centre Court clash with his American opponent, taking a medical timeout off court during the second set and being implored to retire by members of his team and family in the stands.
But Nadal ultimately prevailed in a four-and-a-half-hour contest to set up a Wimbledon semifinal against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios on Friday.
The injury claims did not seem to sit well with long-time rival Fognini, however, as the Italian took to social media with a message on the narrative surrounding the 22-time Grand Slam king.
Sharing an Italian article about Nadal’s latest feat, Fognini underlined the section which mentioned his injury, adding: “For sure… Guys stop believe in what you read PLEASE!!!”
However, after the comments were picked up by the media, Fognini issued a follow-up message in which he insisted his message had been distorted and that he wished Nadal well.
“Please note with these simple lines that NEVER EVER I have referred to a champion like Rafa,” wrote the Italian.
“It's time to stop writing and reporting everything you want and in the WRONG way. I wish Rafa and his team good luck for this [bid to reach the] Wimbledon final.”
Former Australian Open doubles champion Fognini, 35, has had run-ins with Nadal in the past, including during the Hamburg Open final in 2015.
Nadal later insisted there was no beef between the pair and that he had “a good relationship” with the Italian, although there appeared to be lingering tensions between Fognini and Nadal’s uncle Toni at the China Open later that year.
Nadal also weighed in when the combustible Fognini was thrown out of the US Open in 2017 because of inappropriate language directed towards a female umpire, with the Spaniard suggesting organizers should have acted more quickly to suspend the Italian.
Nadal said after his win over Fritz that he had contemplated not finishing Wednesday’s quarterfinal.
“For a lot of moments I was thinking, ‘Maybe I will not be able to finish the match,’” said the 36-year-old, who was seen with tape on his stomach area.
Nadal also said he could not guarantee he would line up for Friday’s semifinal against Nick Kyrgios, telling reporters: “I don’t know [if I can play]. Honestly, I can’t give you a clear answer. I don’t know exactly what I have.
“It’s clear something's not right. I’m obviously worried.”
Nadal revealed after his French Open triumph last month that he had played through the tournament with pain-killing injections to help a longstanding foot injury.
Nadal’s win against Fritz keeps his hopes of a Calendar Grand Slam alive after titles in Paris and Melbourne so far this year.
Victory at the All England Club would also give Nadal a third title at the tournament overall and a first since 2010.
In the other semifinal, six-time Wimbledon king Novak Djokovic meets home hero Cameron Norrie, with the Serbian top seed aiming for a fourth successive title at SW19.
Fognini himself was in action at Wimbledon this year, but bowed out in the first round with a four-set defeat to Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor.