Not even idol Woods can lift Nadal, who vows to fight on

Sat Sep 5, 2015 6:11pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Not even the presence of his sporting inspiration, Tiger Woods, at the U.S. Open could lift Rafa Nadal to his accustomed heights at Flushing Meadows, leaving the Spaniard to assess his recent shortcomings on the court.

Nadal was 151-0 in grand slams when winning the first two sets, but his perfect record ended when he could not stave off the comeback of inspired Fabio Fognini, who prevailed 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 in a match that ended in the wee hours on Saturday.

"If you hit the ball a bit shorter, the opponent has more space. If you hit the ball with a little bit of less confidence, then there is not as much topspin like used to be," he said after his upset loss to the Italian.

"If you hit shorter ... the opponent takes the ball earlier, so it looks like you are slower.

"Is easy to understand, easy to explain. Difficult to change. But I going to do it."

The third-round defeat put a sour end to a sub-par season for Nadal, 29, whose record run of winning at least one grand slam title for 10 straight years was snapped.

He went as far as the quarters at the Australian and French Opens and was ousted in the second round at Wimbledon by an opponent ranked outside the top 100.

"I accept that was not my year and (will) keep fighting till the end of the season in a positive way for me. I know what I have to do and I'm going to work on it," said the proud Spaniard, seeded eighth at Flushing Meadows.   Continued...

Sep 4, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after winning a point against Fabio Fognini of Italy (not pictured) on day five of the 2015 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters. Picture Supplied by Action Images