Rafael Nadal powered his way into the first qualifying position for the year-end finals thanks to his 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Fabio Fogniniin a match which ended Friday morning at the US Open.

The Spanish second seed who is still not perfectly fit from a long-term abdominal injury, overcame his Italian rival, winning his 14th match while losing only four in the series.

Fognini’s most memorable win over Nadal was his comeback from two sets down here in the 2015 third round.

Nadal bashed himself on the bridge of his nose as his racquet head bounced off the court and caught him unawares, requiring a medical time out in the fourth set.

“It was a little bit dizzy and a little painful,” he said. “I’ve been hit by the ball but not the racquet.”

Nadal is now assured a spot in the ATP Finals in Turin from November 13-20 after escaping with victory while trailing a set and 4-2.

“I was not competing for an hour and a half,” he said. “It was one of my worst starts ever.

“But you have to accept the situation, it’s not been an easy month for me.

“I know this can happen, but I’m still alive after a match like this. The shots ere not there today.

“Hopefully these kinds of days don’t happen very often. You cannot get frustrated,you have to find a solution.”

Nadal got off to a slow start, with Fognini demonstrating his flashy form with two breaks in the opening set.

But the steady Spaniard struck back in the second as he went through the gears of his improving game to level at a set each. Fognini took treatment on his strapped right ankle after Nadal won the third set to take command.

Nadal began to hit his stride in the fourth set before the racquet incident. Fognini saved two match points before losing after two and three-quarter hours..

In the dramatic late-match plot twist, Nadal dropped his racquet at the start of the fourth game of the fourth after a ricochet from his weapon which bounced on the court struck him on the bridge of the nose, drawing blood.

The Spaniard went immediately to the sidelines, lay down and was attended by the trainer within moments.

The re-start was patchy as Nadal lost the first six points before eventually closing out victory.