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Fognini Continues First-Time Masters 1000 Champion Trend In Monte-Carlo

  • Posted: Apr 21, 2019

Fognini Continues First-Time Masters 1000 Champion Trend In Monte-Carlo

Fognini is the eighth first-time Masters 1000 champ since 2017 Rome

Fabio Fognini made history on Sunday, winning the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters to become the first Italian to lift an ATP Masters 1000 singles trophy. Fognini is the eighth player to win his first Masters 1000 title over the past 17 events at the elite level. In the 92 ATP Masters 1000 events prior to 2017 Rome, only eight players won their first Masters 1000 crown.

The 31-year-old fell behind an early break in the final against Dusan Lajovic, but he would break the Serbian’s serve four times to triumph after one hour and 38 minutes. Andrey Rublev led the 13th seed 6-4, 4-1 in the first round, but Fognini rallied to complete the best week of his career.

Four of the seven players who have won their maiden crown at this level since the 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia went on to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time that same season.

ATPTour.com looks at the recent first-time Masters 1000 winners…

Alexander Zverev (2017 Rome)
Alexander Zverev had just turned 20 when he reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia. But the German looked like a veteran in defeating second seed Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3.

Zverev became the youngest Rome champion since a 19-year-old Rafael Nadal triumphed in 2006 and the youngest Masters 1000 winner since a 19-year-old Djokovic lifted the Miami trophy in 2007. He has since won two more Masters 1000 titles.

“I’m very happy with the way I played and my performance all week, I think today was one of the best matches I ever played,” said Zverev. “I knew I had to be aggressive from the first point to the last. It was very important for me to be able to stay this aggressive and not let him take over the game.”

Grigor Dimitrov (2017 Cincinnati)
Grigor Dimitrov’s maiden Masters 1000 moment came in the midst of his best season to date. The Bulgarian, at 26, beat Aussie Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 to win the Western & Southern Open.

Dimitrov did not lose a set all tournament, becoming the first player to do so and win his first Masters 1000 trophy since Djokovic at Miami in 2007. Dimitrov, who won 52 of his 53 service games, would go on to capture his biggest crown yet at the Nitto ATP Finals three months later.

Jack Sock (2017 Paris)
In the first round of the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters, Kyle Edmund led Jack Sock 5-1 in the third set. But Sock found a way to dig out of that hole and advance, and he never looked back. The American defeated Filip Krajinovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 in the championship match to win his first Masters 1000 title.

Entering the week, Sock was 24th in the ATP Race To London. But the triumph earned him his first singles qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals, and also propelled him into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time.

“There have been a lot of firsts,” Sock said during the trophy ceremony. “It started at the French Open with my first fourth round of a Slam, now I’ve won my first Masters 1000 in Paris, this will be my first time in the Top 10 and this will be the first time making the year-end [Nitto ATP] Finals. So there’s a lot going on right now emotionally and I can’t wait to enjoy it all with my team.”

Juan Martin del Potro (2018 Indian Wells)
Juan Martin del Potro is the lone Grand Slam singles champion from this group. But entering last year’s BNP Paribas Open, the Argentine had never won a Masters 1000 crown. Three times previously — at 2009 Montreal (l. to Murray), 2013 Indian Wells (l. to Nadal), and 2013 Shanghai (l. to Djokovic) — Del Potro fell just one win short.

Roger Federer, who was 17-0 on the year, had three championship points to prevent the ‘Tower of Tandil’ from changing that in the final. But nothing could stop Del Potro, as he played courageous tennis to stun Federer 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(2) in what was one of the best matches of the 2018 ATP Tour season.

John Isner (2018 Miami)
John Isner arrived at the 2018 Miami Open presented by Itau with a 2-6 record on the season, looking to gain some form. He did more than that in South Beach, rallying to defeat Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 for the title. The American, who was 32 years, 11 months old at the time, became the oldest first-time Masters 1000 champion in the history of the series (since 1990).

The fourth time was the charm for Isner, who finished runner-up at 2012 Indian Wells (l. to Federer), 2013 Cincinnati (l. to Nadal) and 2016 Paris (l. to Murray). Isner used this victory as a springboard, ultimately qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

Karen Khachanov (2018 Paris)
Djokovic entered the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters final on a 22-match winning streak, poised to tie Nadal’s record of 33 ATP Masters 1000 trophies. But Russian Karen Khachanov earned the biggest title of his career, shocking the Serbian 7-5, 6-4 for his maiden Masters 1000 moment.

Khachanov’s triumph was the last of four consecutive wins against Top 10 players in the ATP Rankings (Isner, Zverev, Thiem and Djokovic), and it would send him to a year-end finish of 11th, his career-best.

Dominic Thiem(2019 Indian Wells)
It was not surprising that Thiem won a Masters 1000 tournament. But it is safe to say that nobody expected the Austrian’s maiden moment to come on a hard court. In fact, he had never advanced past the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open.

But the 25-year-old put together a stunning performance to defeat Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the final, earning just his second Top 5 victory on hard courts. Thiem’s effort helped him match his career-high of No. 4 in the ATP Rankings. He was also the first Austrian Masters 1000 winner since Thomas Muster at 1997 Miami.

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A Look Back At The 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

  • Posted: Apr 21, 2019

A Look Back At The 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

ATPTour.com takes a look back at the third ATP Masters 1000 event of the year

Sun, scenery and scintillating tennis. The Monte-Carlo Country Club once again played host to a perfect week of ATP Masters 1000 action. Plenty of riveting storylines and pulsating moments captured our attention. From early exits and jaw-dropping upsets to Fabio Fognini securing his first Masters 1000 shield, relive the best moments of the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters…

Fabio’s Maiden Moment: It was a moment that Fabio Fognini will never forget. On Sunday, the 31-year-old became the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title, securing the biggest victory of his career. Fognini was a force throughout the week in the Principality, stunning Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal, before stopping Dusan Lajovic in the championship.

Fognini is the eighth player to win his first Masters 1000 title over the past 17 events at the elite level. He rises to a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings with the victory, becoming the first player to upset Nadal on clay en route to a title since Pablo Cuevas in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Read Report & Watch Final Highlights

Fognini

Mektic/Skugor Make Masters 1000 History: For the first time since the introduction of the ATP Masters 1000 series in 1990, an all-Croatian doubles team has lifted a trophy. Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor celebrated their first team title on the clay of Monte-Carlo.

It was a dramatic final victory for the Croatians, who rallied from a set down and saved a championship point to triumph 6-7(3), 7-6(3), 11-9 over Robin Haase and Wesley Koolhof. For Mektic, the win carried added significance considering he opened the Masters 1000 season with a title in Indian Wells, alongside Horacio Zeballos. The 30-year-old is now 3-0 in finals at the elite level, all with different partners.

Read Final Report

Doubles

Dusan’s Dream: It was a ‘pinch me’ week for Lajovic, who streaked to his first ATP Tour title with aplomb. The Serbian did not drop a set en route to the championship, earning his first Top 5 win (d. Thiem) along the way. Despite falling in Sunday’s final, he will ascend 24 spots to a career-high No. 24 in the ATP Rankings.

The fact that Lajovic had been battling a blister on his toe all week, adds to the legend of his Monte-Carlo campaign. The World No. 48 defeated Malek Jaziri, David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Lorenzo Sonego and Daniil Medvedev to record five straight tour-level victories for the first time in his career.

You May Also Like: Five Things To Know About Dusan Lajovic

Rafa Returns: Competing in his first tournament in one month, due to a right knee injury, Rafael Nadal streaked to the semi-finals at his happy hunting ground. The 11-time champion ousted Roberto Bautista Agut, Grigor Dimitrov and Guido Pella without dropping a set, before succumbing to Fognini on Saturday. It was just his fifth defeat at the Monte-Carlo Country Club and first to a player outside the Top 10 since 2003 (l. to Coria).

Read: Nadal’s Staggering Points Haul During Spring Clay Swing

Daniil’s Day: It was a week of upsets in the Principality. In addition to Fognini’s victories over Nadal and Zverev and Lajovic’s win over Thiem, Pierre-Hugues Herbert stunned 2018 finalist Kei Nishikori in the second round and Daniil Medvedev stopped top seed Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. Medvedev earned his first win over a World No. 1 and the biggest win of his young career, breaking Djokovic five times for the 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win. The tour-level match wins leader in 2019, the Russian would extend his record to 21-7, en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

Read: Medvedev Upsets Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Sonego’s Big Breakthrough: Qualifier Lorenzo Sonego turned in a Cinderella performance at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. The Italian reached his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final behind upsets of countryman Andreas Seppi, eighth seed Karen Khachanov and Cameron Norrie. He will ascend 30 spots in the ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 66.

Read: Sonego Stuns Khachanov

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/lorenzo-sonego/su87/overview'>Lorenzo Sonego</a> celebrates his win against <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/karen-khachanov/ke29/overview'>Karen Khachanov</a> in Monte-Carlo

Marco’s Great Escape: It will go down as one of the great comebacks of the ATP Tour season. Marco Cecchinato had dropped the first eight games against Stan Wawrinka in their second-round meeting. But the Italian would not go down without a fight, storming back from 0-6, 0-2 down to prevail 0-6, 7-5, 6-3. His third-round finish matched his best result at an ATP Masters 1000 event.

Read: Cecchinato Completes Comeback

Pella Power: While Nadal lost to Fognini in the semi-finals, he was pushed to the limit by Guido Pella a day earlier. The Argentine broke the Spaniard on four occasions in the first set, but was unable to cross the finish line. It was an impressive week for Pella, who outlasted seventh seed Marin Cilic in the second round and Cecchinato in the third round.

Read: Pella Pushes Past Cilic

Showing Heart: When Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert hit his final forehand on Monday to defeat Fernando Verdasco, it was more than a typical victory; it was one full of emotion. The 28-year-old did not simply sign his name on the television camera, but he wrote ‘Notre Dame’ with a broken heart underneath it. Tragedy struck on Monday when the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire, burning deep into the night.

And the fire did not just emotionally touch the Frenchmen playing in Monte-Carlo. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal both saw the news and discussed their reactions with the assembled media…

Read & Watch Hot Shots: Herbert Upsets Nishikori
Read: Herbert, Djokovic, Nadal & Other Stars Reflect On Notre-Dame

Herbert

A Royal Visit: A select group of ATP stars had the privilege of being received by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco at the Royal Palace. The Prince has long been an integral participant of the tournament, taking in the action every year and this year he welcomed Djokovic, Nadal, Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime, David Goffin and Mischa Zverev.

Read & Watch: Nadal, Djokovic & Co. Visit Royal Palace

Monte-Carlo

The ATP Anagram Challenge: Jamie Murray and Kyle Edmund were put to the test both on and off the court in Monte-Carlo. Who won this round of the ATP Anagram Challenge?

ATP Stars Give Back: Former champion Stan Wawrinka and World No. 5 Thiem took the role of team captains in a fun-filled charity exhibition, benefiting the Monaco Red Cross. Alongside Wawrinka on his team of French-speaking players were Lucas Pouille, David Goffin and Medvedev. BNP Paribas Open champion Thiem was joined by Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov.

Read: Wawrinka, Thiem Lead ATP Stars In Charity Exhibition

Monte-Carlo charity exhibition

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Fognini Reflects On Winning Monte-Carlo Title

  • Posted: Apr 21, 2019

Fognini Reflects On Winning Monte-Carlo Title

Italian downplays the hype after winning maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown

Are we witnessing a new Fabio Fognini at age 31?

The Italian won the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Sunday for his first ATP Masters 100 title, but refused to look too far ahead afterwards. Fognini proved this week that he can beat anyone in the world when he’s at his best, but quickly shook off expectations of him being a favourite to win on clay for the rest of the season.

“I’m thinking about Monte-Carlo at the moment because I would like to enjoy this trophy tonight with my family and friends. And then tomorrow is another week. It’s my mom’s birthday, so I would like to enjoy it,” he said. “I’m just thinking about the next tournament, the next match that I would like to play, and we will see if I’m in really good shape. You have to be lucky also in the draw. [It’s] a lot of things. But it’s not my problem right now, believe me.

“If I’m being honest, the favourite is still Rafael Nadal. I’m not the only one that says this. He’s won, I don’t know how many times, and he’s still the favourite every week that we play on this surface.”

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His incredible week in Monte-Carlo seemed improbable at the start. Fognini arrived at this event with no wins over a player in the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings this season and an 0-4 record on clay. He trailed by a set and faced five break points for 1-5 in the second set of his opening-round match against Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev, but found a way to pull off a comeback win.

Buoyed by the victory and aided by a second-round walkover against Frenchman Gilles Simon, Fognini came alive. Wins over third seed Alexander Zverev of Germany and ninth seed Borna Coric of Croatia were the appetizer to his shocking semi-final upset of Nadal, which saw Fognini take 11 of the last 14 games against the Spaniard. Fognini capped off the tournament with another high-quality performance against Dusan Lajovic of Serbia for the title.

“The first match I was really lucky. Second one, also,” admitted Fognini. “And then I started to play great. I think I played really good with Sascha. It was really tough against Borna, because we played last and the weather was colder than normal.

“In the semi-final, I think I played my best tennis from the beginning to the end. With Rafa, everybody knows that you have to play really good in the beginning until the end. And today was the final. The most important thing was the cup.”

You May Also Like: Fognini Beats Lajovic To Win Monte-Carlo Title

Fognini’s happiness off the court is translating into success on the court. He spoke highly of the stability that his wife, former US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, and their nearly two-year-old son, Federico, have brought into his life.

“I have everything in my life,” said Fognini. “I have a baby. I have a wife. They are with me all the time, so there’s nothing more to ask than that.”

The family support seemed to extend to the entire crowd inside Court Rainier III, who loudly cheered him on throughout his matches. Fognini was born 45 minutes away in Sanremo and practised at the tournament site growing up. He admitted that Monte-Carlo feels like his home tournament and made lifting the trophy even more surreal.

“Parents and friends, I don’t know how many tickets they got during the week,” he joked. “I think they feel happy now because I have my name on this tournament. It’s something that I’ve been dreaming of since I was really young.”

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Lajovic's Dream Week: 'It Was A Great Experience'

  • Posted: Apr 21, 2019

Lajovic’s Dream Week: ‘It Was A Great Experience’

Dusan Lajovic reflects on a breakthrough campaign in Monte-Carlo

It was a week Dusan Lajovic will never forget. Not even a toe blister could stop the Serbian from producing countless moments of magic, en route to his first ATP Tour final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

On Saturday, Lajovic exclaimed, “I’m going to cut that toe off if it means I can play tomorrow.”

Thankfully, the 28-year-old did not need to resort to extreme measures to face Fabio Fognini in the championship, and despite falling 6-3, 6-4, he believes it could be a career-altering experience. It’s not often that a first ATP Masters 1000 final is also a first tour-level final, and Lajovic knows a week like that could change everything.

You May Also Like: Five Things To Know About Dusan Lajovic

“It was my first time in a final, so a great experience for me,” said Lajovic. “It’s many more positives than negatives this week, so there is no reason to be sad even if I don’t feel as happy as the whole week today. But I know that it’s my best result, and I just hope that I can repeat this result in some other event, as well, in the future.

“Fabio is three years older than me, so he’s playing his best tennis right now. That’s also a good thing for me. I can see that it’s never too late. I’m happy for him that he won the title. On the other hand, I’m also happy that I had this experience this week and played a final at a Masters.”

The World No. 48 defeated Malek Jaziri, David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Lorenzo Sonego and Daniil Medvedev to record five straight tour-level victories for the first time in his career. Not only did he secure his first win over a Top 5 opponent with a 6-3, 6-3 rout of Thiem, but he did not drop a set all week entering the final.

But, despite his great success, Lajovic’s date with destiny was put on hold. He was bidding to become the first player to win his maiden ATP Tour title at a Masters 1000 event since Albert Portas in Hamburg in 2001 and just the second Serbian to ever raise a Masters 1000 shield, joining Novak Djokovic. He admits that while his performance on Sunday was not good enough to lift the trophy, all credit goes to Fognini.

“I was feeling on the court that I had to work much harder than him to win the points,” added Lajovic. “I think this was the key. He was pretty stable and solid from both sides, moving well. And when I was on and when I was aggressive, I was able to make points and put him under pressure. But at times, my game was just off. I had a lot of unforced errors.

“I was under the pressure of the moment, and all together, I think he was much better player today. Congrats to him… He just knows how to play tennis on clay. And he beat Rafa yesterday in two sets, so he showed that he can produce top quality tennis. He deserved to win the title here.

“He was a couple times in a position where he was able to get some good results and break into the Top 10, so I think that this will be a huge boost, because he never won a Masters 1000 before. So I think if he keeps playing like this, for sure he’s gonna break into the Top 10.”

While Fognini is pushing towards the Top 10 breakthrough that Lajovic refers to, rising to a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings, the Serbian is projected to enjoy a breakthrough of his own. He ascends 24 spots to a career-high No. 24 on Monday.

Lajovic is right back to work next week at the Hungarian Open in Budapest. He opens his campaign on Tuesday against wild card Mate Valkusz, with a potential second-round clash against countryman Laslo Djere in the cards.

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Monte Carlo Masters: Fabio Fognini beats Dusan Lajovic in final

  • Posted: Apr 21, 2019

Italy’s Fabio Fognini won a Masters 1000 event for the first time with a straight-sets victory over Dusan Lajovic at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Fognini, 31, beat Serbia’s Lajovic 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 38 minutes.

World number 18 Fognini entered the Monte Carlo Masters on a five-match losing streak but beat Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric and 11-time winner Rafael Nadal en route to the final.

“It was really tough, Dusan played an unbelievable week,” Fognini said.

Lajovic made the better start, breaking Fognini’s serve early on but the Italian fought back, breaking twice to take a 4-2 lead in the opening set.

Serving for the set, he saved a break point before a backhand down the line gave him the lead.

Both players had their serves broken in the first two games of the second set, but despite receiving treatment on ankle and hamstring niggles, it was Fognini who went on to dominate, serving out the match.

Fognini becomes the first Italian to win a Masters 1000 singles title and is the oldest Monte Carlo champion in the open era.

He is the first Italian to take the Monte Carlo crown since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1968 and will rise to number 12 in the world rankings.

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Fed Cup: Great Britain lead Kazakhstan 2-1 after Johanna Konta wins

  • Posted: Apr 21, 2019
Great Britain v Kazakhstan – Fed Cup World Group II play-off
Venue: Copper Box Arena, London Dates: 20-21 April
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and live text commentary on BBC website

Johanna Konta fought back from 4-1 down in the deciding set to beat Yulia Putintseva and put Great Britain 2-1 ahead in their Fed Cup play-off tie with Kazakhstan.

The British number one won 4-6 6-2 7-5 in two hours and 25 minutes at London’s Copper Box Arena.

Konta was broken twice in the first set but responded to dominate the second.

She then won six of the last seven games in the decider to complete a sensational comeback.

If Katie Boulter beats Zarina Diyas in the second singles rubber later on Sunday, Britain will gain promotion to World Group II – a level they last played at in 1993.

More to follow.

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Fognini Beats Lajovic To Win Monte-Carlo Title

  • Posted: Apr 21, 2019

Fognini Beats Lajovic To Win Monte-Carlo Title

This is Fognini’s first ATP Masters 1000 title

Fabio Fognini became the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title on Sunday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, defeating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 38 minutes.

“I’m really, really happy. Nothing to say,” Fognini said. “I have to keep calm, maybe take a shower, relax, and think about this because it’s something incredible.”

The 13th seed converted four of five break points to become the lowest seeded player to lift the trophy since fellow No. 13 seed Gustavo Kuerten’s title run in 1999. Fognini will rise to a career-high No. 12 when the latest ATP Rankings are published on Monday.

“I was preparing for the match as best I can because he has my ex-coach and I knew it was going to be really tough, a lot of running,” Fognini said. “[It’s an] incredible achievement. I’m really, really happy.”

Fognini’s title in the Principality comes after a difficult start to the season. The nine-time tour-level titlist entered the Monte-Carlo Country Club with one win in his eight most recent tour-level encounters and had lost each of his four matches on clay this year.

Fognini’s journey to the trophy was packed with drama. The 31-year-old recovered from 4-6, 1-4 down in his first-round match against Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev and also overturned a 1-6, 0-2 deficit against Borna Coric in the quarter-finals.

Alongside comeback victories against Rublev and Coric, Fognini also defeated two Top 5 opponents in straight sets this week. The Italian upset World No. 3 Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals and stunned 11-time champion Rafael Nadal in the last four. Fognini is the first player to defeat Nadal en route to a clay-court title since Pablo Cuevas’s triumph at the Rio Open presented by Claro in 2016.

After dropping his second service game on Court Rainier III, Fognini levelled the opening set at 2-2 with precision and power. The Italian flattened his backhand to push Lajovic behind the baseline and, following a well-placed drop shot, levelled the match with a forehand volley into the open court. Fognini moved into a 4-2 lead following multiple unforced errors from his opponent and grabbed the opening set after 44 minutes with his 12th winner of the set; a perfectly-timed backhand up the line.

With his forehand proving to be a key factor in his semi-final win against Nadal, Fognini continued to enjoy success from that wing early in the opening stages of the second set. Fognini broke for a 3-2 lead with great defensive skill, retrieving balls from behind the baseline to extend points and extract errors from his opponent. The 31-year-old maintained his advantage through to 5-4 and served with confidence to claim the title, converting his second match point as Lajovic mistimed his forehand return.

As the lowest-ranked Monte-Carlo finalist since Hicham Arazi in 2001, Lajovic was bidding to become the first unseeded player to win in Monte-Carlo since Thomas Muster in 1992. The World No. 48 did not drop a set en route to his first ATP Tour final, defeating Malek Jaziri, David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Lorenzo Sonego and Daniil Medvedev to record five straight tour-level victories for the first time in his career.

Fognini earns 1000 ATP Rankings points and receives €958,055 in prize money. Lajovic gains 600 points and €484,950 for his run to the championship match.

Did You Know?
Fognini is the eighth player to win his first Masters 1000 title over the past 17 events at the elite level. In the 92 ATP Masters 1000 events prior to 2017 Rome, only eight players won their first Masters 1000 crown.

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Fognini Wins Forehand Battle To Upset Nadal

  • Posted: Apr 21, 2019

Fognini Wins Forehand Battle To Upset Nadal

Italian will meet Lajovic in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final

The forehand broke.

Fabio Fognini stunned Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-2 in the semi-finals of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Saturday with Nadal’s forehand starting strong but misfiring the further the match progressed.

Nadal was broken in his first service game, then broke back twice in a row to lead 3-1 in the opening set. His forehand was behaving perfectly well in the first four games, as he made an impressive 46 of 47 forehand groundstrokes and returns, including one winner.

And then it started disintegrating into the beaten red earth. Nadal lost 10 of the next 11 games to trail 6-4, 5-0, with the Spaniard committing at least one forehand error per game, and sometimes four. Rarely have we seen forehand errors flow as freely from Nadal’s racket, as he described his performance as “one of the worst matches on clay in 14 years”.

Nadal put 46 forehands in the court in the first four games, but only put 89 forehands in play in the next 14 games to the end of the match. It completely moved from an asset to a liability. The stark contrast can also be seen in the error column, as he had just one forehand error in four games, then 26 forehand errors in the next 14 games.

Overall, Nadal committed 27 forehand errors while hitting just five winners.

Nadal’s Forehand: Winners & Errors
Forehand Return = 0 winners / 3 errors
Serve +1 Forehand = 1 winner / 5 errors
Return +1 Forehand = 0 winners / 3 errors
Rally Forehands = 4 winners / 16 errors
Total = 5 winners / 27 errors

What was shocking to see was how little control Nadal had over his forehand in the big moments. When serving at 4-4 in the opening set, Nadal hit seven forehands in the game, with four of them being errors. He lost his serve to love.

Fognini’s forehand was solid throughout the match, particularly when returning serve. He hit 19 forehand returns for the match, missing just one of them.

Fognini’s Forehand: Winners & Errors
Forehand Return = 0 winners / 1 error
Serve +1 Forehand = 3 winners / 4 errors
Return +1 Forehand = 2 winners / 2 errors
Rally Forehands = 4 winners / 10 errors
Total = 9 winners / 17 errors

Fognini won several small battles around the baseline, which all helped add up to his impressive victory. Fognini’s average groundstroke speed for the match was 123km/h, which was faster than Nadal at 118km/h. Overall, Fognini played more down the line than Nadal (43 per cent to 32 per cent) from the baseline, identifying another area where he felt more control.

Court position was also a telling indicator of how well Fognini owned the baseline exchanges. The Italian only hit 22 per cent of shots from at least two metres behind the baseline, while Nadal hit 42 per cent of all shots after the serve and return from back deep behind the baseline. The Spaniard was trying to buy more time and not have his shots rushed, but it in turn opened up angles for Fognini to attack. Nadal only played 34 per cent of his shots from that deep in the court in his quarter-final victory over Guido Pella.

Nadal will now play in the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell where he is the top seed. Fognini has one more match in Monte-Carlo – the final on Sunday against Dusan Lajovic.

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What Fognini Told Nadal Before Their Monte-Carlo SF

  • Posted: Apr 20, 2019

What Fognini Told Nadal Before Their Monte-Carlo SF

Italian into his first ATP Masters 1000 final

Walking onto Court Rainier III at the Monte-Carlo Country Club to play Rafael Nadal is a daunting task. The Spaniard has won 11 titles on the main court at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

But on Saturday, Italian Fabio Fognini felt no fear. In fact, he says he played up his chances to Nadal himself.

“With Rafa, it’s always difficult,” Fognini said. “I was telling him yesterday that I knew that I have the game to play against him. Sometimes I won, a few matches. One crazy one in the US Open and two times on clay. So I knew that I had nothing to lose, because, of course, especially when you go with him on clay, it’s always really tough.”

After a stunning one-hour, 36-minute display, Fognini is into his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final. The Italian ended Nadal’s Monte-Carlo streaks of 25 straight sets and 18 consecutive matches won.

Fognini arrived at this event having lost seven of his previous eight tour-level matches, including four in a row on clay. In the first round, Andrey Rublev took a 6-4, 4-1 lead against Fognini and had five chances to make it 5-1. But the Italian battled back, and he has not looked back since.

“If you told me at the beginning of the week, I will see you on Sunday, I would laugh in your face. I was 6-4, 4-1 down and break points for 5-1, and I made an ace on the line,” Fognini said. “But that’s incredible sport, so I was lucky. Now I’m in the final. And of course I’ll go for the title tomorrow.”

Fognini arrived in the Principality without momentum, trying to bounce back from a disappointing first-round straight-sets loss in Marrakech against Czech Jiri Vesely. Just days later, he is the first Italian Monte-Carlo finalist since Corrado Barazzutti (l. to Borg) in 1977.

“Fabio played an unbelievable match. He played so well. Rafa is Rafa… it’s a fantastic result,” former Italian Davis Cup Captain Paolo Bertolucci told ATP Tennis Radio. “We couldn’t imagine that after Marrakech… But the sport is like this. Something very important could change in one day and then you can see your next match much easier and start to play much better and finish on Sunday.”

Listen To ATP Tennis Radio’s Interview With Paolo Bertolucci:

It’s a fitting location for Fognini’s resurgence, as he lives only a 45-minute drive from the Monte-Carlo Country Club. It’s closer to his residence than the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, a Masters 1000 tournament held in Rome.

“Today playing against Rafa, even if you play in Italy, it’s really tough,” Fognini said, with a smile. “I’m living really close by, and it’s a big opportunity to them to come here and try to watch me play. So I don’t know tomorrow how many they are coming, but that’s not my problem. It’s his problem. I hope that they are coming, a lot of people.”

Fognini’s friends and family have been able to come out to support the 13th seed, including his wife, 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta.

“It was an amazing day. He played really, really well. He was really consistent, really focused on the game. It was not easy to play today, a really windy day and Rafa had some mistakes, a few mistakes in important moments,” Pennetta told ATP Tennis Radio. “It’s not that usual that you see that from Rafa, but it was really difficult to play today. I saw Fabio also played really well yesterday with the wind. He’s a guy who in these conditions, he plays really well.”

Listen To ATP Tennis Radio’s Interview With Flavia Pennetta:

The 31-year-old will meet Serbian Dusan Lajovic — who had never made an ATP Tour final or advanced past a Masters 1000 quarter-final — for the trophy. It is a big opportunity for both men, as this is the first Masters 1000 championship match between two first-time finalists at the elite level since the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters.

“I think it’s the best moment for him. He was working all his career to get to a final at the best tournaments. This one is one of the best after the Grand Slams,” Pennetta said. “It’s a really important day for both of them because normally you face Rafa, Djokovic, Roger in the final. It’s a big chance for both of them so it’s going to be a really emotional moment.”

“It’s going to be really tough. He has nothing to lose. I have nothing to lose. We start 50/50,” Fognini said. “Even if in the [ATP] Rankings I’m higher than him, I know that I have to run a lot tomorrow.”

Did You Know?
Fognini is the fourth man to claim three or more victories against Nadal on clay, following in the footsteps of Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Gaston Gaudio.

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Fed Cup semi-finals: Australia & Belarus level, with Romania & France also all square

  • Posted: Apr 20, 2019

Australia remain well placed to reach their first Fed Cup final in 26 years after Ashleigh Barty beat former world number one Victoria Azarenka to level their semi-final against Belarus.

The visitors had led in Brisbane after Aryna Sabalenka beat former US Open champion Sam Stosur 7-5 5-7 6-3.

In the other semi-final, Romania and France are also deadlocked at 1-1 after the opening singles on Saturday.

France’s Caroline Garcia beat Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3 6-3 to level.

French Open champion Simona Halep earlier outclassed Kristina Mladenovic in a 6-3 6-1 win to put Romania ahead.

The Romanians are aiming for their maiden Fed Cup final after upsetting defending champions Czech Republic in an epic quarter-final.

  • Boulter suffers dramatic defeat as GB & Kazakhstan remain level
  • Live scores, schedule and results
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