For a moment it seemed Rafael Nadal was in danger of a premature exit from the US Open against Fabio Fognini on Thursday but he steadied to improve his 2022 grand slam record to 21-0.

Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open titles earlier this year, but an abdominal injury forced him to withdraw from Wimbledon at the semi-final stage, handing Nick Kyrgios a passage to the decider won by Novak Djokovic.

The 22-time major champion is on a mission to make it three from four grand slam titles this calendar year in Djokovic's absence in New York.

The 36-year-old Spaniard will take on veteran Richard Gasquet next in the third round, whom Nadal boasts a remarkable 17-0 head-to-head record against.

Nadal's 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-1 win over Fognini also meant he became the first player to qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin too.

But the current world number three has bigger fish to fry, needing to maintain his perfect 2022 record at majors for a fifth US Open crown.

If he succeeds, Nadal will not quite claim a calendar Grand Slam - achieved only by five players in singles history in Don Budge (1938), Maureen Connolly (1953), Rod Laver (1962, 1969), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988) - but he would have achieved a staggering 26-0 record at majors for 2022.