Fognini Edges Verdasco To Reach Båstad Final
Fabio Fognini reached his second tour-level final of the season, beating Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 at the SkiStar Swedish Open on Saturday.
The Brasil Open champion defeated the Spanish left-hander for the first time in four FedEx ATP Head2Head clay-court encounters (overall 3-4) after two hours and 17 minutes, winning 76 per cent of second-serve return points en route to victory. Earlier this year, Fognini and Verdasco met at the same stage at the Rio Open Presented By Claro, with Verdasco triumphing in straight sets.
Fognini got off to a quick start, breaking Verdasco in three consecutive return games to take control of the semi-final encounter. But Verdasco, after making an early breakthrough in the second set, forced a decider with a third break of serve in the ninth game.
The 31-year-old Fognini twice led by a break in the third set, and despite surrendering his advantage on both occasions, eventually claimed victory. Fognini capitalised on forehand errors, either side of an aggressive foray into net, to deny Verdasco a third opportunity to lift the trophy. The 34-year-old reached the championship match in 2013 (l. to Berlocq) and 2016 (l. to Ramos-Vinolas).
Fognini, who improves to 30-14 this season, will meet Swiss lucky loser Henri Laaksonen or Frenchman Richard Gasquet for the title. Fognini trails Gasquet 1-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and is yet to meet Laaksonen at tour-level.
Did You Know?
En route to his sixth tour-level crown at the Brasil Open in February, Fabio Fognini ended Pablo Cuevas’ 15-match win streak at the Sao Paulo-based event.