Fognini stuns Nadal in Monte Carlo

Published by Tennismash

BIG WIN: Fabio Fognini snapped Rafael Nadal's 18-match winning streak in Monte Carlo; Getty Images
Italian Fabio Fognini upsets world No.2 Rafael Nadal to advance to his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Monte Carlo.

Rafael Nadal’s bid to win a record 12th Monte Carlo Masters title is over – eliminated in the semifinals by Italian Fabio Fognini.

The No.13-seeded Fognini scored a 6-4 6-2 win to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

“I probably played one of the worst matches on clay in 14 years,” Nadal said after squandering a 3-1 first-set lead and losing 11 of the final 14 games.

“When that happens, you have to lose. And today I deserved to lose because I played against a player that was better than me today.

“I am coming from low moments in terms of injuries, and in terms of the mental side it has not been easy to accept all the things that have been going on … It was this kind of day that everything was wrong.”

Fognini entered the match with a 3-11 career win-loss record against Nadal, having lost their past six matches.

“I knew that I had nothing to lose, because, of course, especially when you go with him on clay, it’s always really tough,” Fognini told ATPTour.com.

The 31-year-old, whose Grand Slam-winning wife Flavia Pennetta was cheering from the stands, now faces Serbian Dusan Lajovic for the title.

“If you told me at the beginning of the week, I will see you on Sunday, I would (have) laughed in your face,” Fognini said.

Lajovic qualified for his first tour-level final with a 7-5 6-1 win over No.10 seed Daniil Medvedev, who had defeated world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

It marks the first time in his career that Lajovic has defeated two top 20-ranked opponents in a tournament, having also upset world No.5 Dominic Thiem in the third round.

Lajovic had to do it the hard way against Medvedev too, recovering from an early deficit.

“I had the worst nightmare, falling down 5-1. But I won 10 games in a row, so I was able to find my rhythm and my game,” Lajovic said.

“In windy conditions like today, it was impossible to play real tennis and in the end I was able to hit my forehands better than him.”

FEATURE: Who is defending the most ranking points on clay?

The world No.48-ranked Lajovic becomes the lowest-ranked player to reach the Monte Carlo final since world No.53 Hicham Arazi in 2001. The 28-year-old is now projected to break into the world’s top 30 – and could make his top 20 debut if he wins the title.

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