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By Chris Oddo | Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fabio Fognini brought one of tennis’s most remarkable streaks to an end with one giant slide.

Rafael Nadal’s 52-match winning streak in clay semifinals came to a stunning halt on Saturday, as Fognini battled back from a set down to secure a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory at the Rio Open.

“I’m really happy about this match,” said Fognini, according to the ATP. “I beat the best player on this surface.”

Fognini looked down and out from the outset but he raised his game and took advantage of a dip in Nadal’s form to break four consecutive times to snatch the second set.

In the third set it was nip and tuck, but Fognini never backed down and he finally sealed the massive upset on his third match point with a sparkling get on a let cord ball of the racquet of Nadal.

After losing the first semifinal on clay of his career, Nadal had reeled off a remarkable 52 consecutive victories in clay semis, a streak that lasted 11 and a half years and saw him win 20 matches in succession against top ten players.

But after a wild Friday night in Rio that saw Nadal finish his quarterfinal victory over Pablo Cuevas well after 3 A.M., Nadal was vulnerable against a formidable Fognini.

Fognini will face David Ferrer in the final on Sunday, but the jubilant Italian knows that whatever the outcome, he has achieved a remarkable result in this semifinal.

“Right now I'm thinking in the now; that I've beaten Rafa," said Fognini. "I'm super happy, and obviously tomorrow I will have to battle David, who has always beaten me... I will obviously be happy if I win. If I lose, I will also leave with the good memories from this week in Rio.”


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