Nadal beats Fognini to win Hamburg Open, his 47th clay title
Spain's Rafael Nadal beat Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-5, 7-5 in the final of the Hamburg Open on Sunday to lift his 67th career title.tennis Updated: Aug 02, 2015 21:15 IST
Spain's Rafael Nadal beat Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-5, 7-5 in the final of the Hamburg Open on Sunday to lift his 67th career title.
The win gave the Spaniard his 47th career clay-court title and first European clay title of the season, extending his record of having won at least one title on clay in Europe every year since 2004.
Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam champion, has endured a disappointing season thus far, winning just two titles in Stuttgart and Buenos Aires prior to Sunday and dropping to number 10 in the world rankings.
World number 32 Fognini, who won the Hamburg title in 2013, was aiming for an almost unthinkable third clay-court victory against Nadal this season following successes in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.
Nadal, whose previous air of invincibility on clay has begun to evaporate, hit just six winners and 15 unforced errors in an evenly contested opening set. He was, however, aided by Fognini who was broken three times in the set and blundered 34 of his own unforced errors following a series of brutal baseline rallies.
Nadal appeared to have gained the upper hand early in the second set and broke en route to a 3-1 lead but Fognini roared back with successive breaks to take a 4-3 lead.
Nadal broke right back, only to be broken again immediately for a 5-4 lead and a chance to serve for a third set for the Italian, who got into a heated exchange with Nadal during the change of ends following the break.
Fognini had two set points, but could not convert as Nadal saved both the opportunities and broke back for 5-5. The Spaniard then held for a 6-5 lead to leave his opponent to serve it into a tiebreak.
Fognini was unable to do so and succumbed to defeat when he blazed a forehand long before a clearly emotional Nadal fell to his knees and saluted the crowd after the final point.
The Italian eighth seed played his part in the entertaining final, crushing 39 winners to Nadal's 19.