Rafael Nadal loses to Fabio Fognini at Rio Open

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Rafael Nadal suffered his first semi-final defeat on clay for 12 years after losing to Fabio Fognini at the Rio Open.

Nadal, who is also known as the 'King of Clay', was expected to breeze past the world number 28, especially after easing the first set 6-1.

Yet the Italian stormed back to stun the Spaniard, winning the next two sets to win 1-6 6-2 7-5 in just over two-and-a-quarter hours.

Hectic schedule

The former world number one will be upset about the scheduling of the semi-final as he had only finished his quarter-final against Pablo Cuevas at 3am local time and was back out for the semi-final the same night. Giving him less than 24 hour recovery time.

"I'm really happy about this match. I beat the best player on this surface"

Fognini was ecstatic to have beaten Nadal as after the match he said: "I'm really happy about this match. I beat the best player on this surface."

"Rafa is always difficult. From the second set I played really well, and I tried to change a little bit to be more positive on court."

Nadal complained of tiredness going into the second and third set.

He said: "The truth is that I lack physical continuity. I can't understand why, but I wasn't in good shape since the second set.

"I am getting tired earlier than usual and I had some cramps in several parts of my body. It's odd because in all my career I have hardly had cramp problems."

Indifferent form

It’s been an indifferent start for Nadal who crashed out in the first round of the Qatar Open and in the quarter-final of the Australian open last month and now lost on his favourite surface.

The once unbeatable player is looking more and more fragile on all surfaces.

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