New York - Rafael Nadal insists he has no intention of severing his lifetime
coaching bond with his uncle Toni and assured fans that there is no need to
panic over his rollercoaster form.
The 29-year-old Spaniard, a 14-time Grand Slam title winner, is enduring the
worst year of his career, a season which has seen him lose his cherished French
Open title and slump to his lowest ranking in a decade.
On Wednesday, he took his recent US Open record to 22 wins in his last 23
matches when he beat diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman to make the third
But his 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 7-5 win was punctuated by worrying lapses that saw
him give up a 5-2 lead in the first set and needing to recover from breaks in
the second and third sets.
Eighth-seeded Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 champion, next faces volatile Italian
Fabio Fognini for a place in the last-16.
"I am number eight in the world but it seems like I am number 200 in
every press conference," said Nadal, who had needed four sets to beat
Croatian teenager Borna Coric in the first round.
"It is normal that the fans are worried because I am worried, too. If I
am not playing well, I am the first one who is worried.
"It seems like I come here, and it seems like if I am being honest, it
is bad. So then if I am being honest with you guys and I explain what happened
to me, the people say, 'Why you say that? Why you are that honest? You give
confidence to the opponent.'"
Nadal has already lost 14 times this year compared to 11 in the whole of
2014, seven in 2013 and just six in 2012.
At Wimbledon, he was knocked out in the second round by Germany's Dustin
Brown while his North American hard-court season saw a quarter-final loss to
Kei Nishikori in Montreal and a third-round exit against compatriot Feliciano
Lopez in Cincinnati.
If he fails to win this year's US Open, he will finish a season without at
least one major title for the first time since 2004.
That form has prompted many in the sport to suggest that it was time for
Nadal to rethink his coaching team, which has been spearheaded by his uncle
Toni since he was four.
But Nadal insists any problems on the court can only be solved by himself.
"I always believed that when I am playing bad, when I am not winning,
you don't have to find excuses outside or reasons outside," he said.
"You have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'That's my fault.
It's not the fault of other people.'
"I had an amazing career with this team. I believe in my team. We are
working a lot to find the right way. I think we are in the good way. I don't
know what's going on in the future, but the real thing is if I have to change
something is myself, not the people around me."
Next up for Nadal is Fognini, who beat him in Rio and Barcelona this year
before the Spaniard gained revenge over the Italian in the Hamburg final in
"He's a big, talented player. He's a tough opponent for everybody when
he's playing well," said Nadal of the 32nd seed.