Fognini claims first Masters title in Monte Carlo

Published by AAP

Fabio Fognini claims his ninth title overall and first at Masters level in Monte Carlo; Getty Images
Fabio Fognini will peak at a career-high world No.12 after seizing his biggest career title in Monte Carlo.

A day after stunning Rafael Nadal, Italian Fabio Fognini has won his first Masters title as he downed Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4 in Monaco.

The 13th-seeded Italian’s first title of the year was his ninth overall but first at Masters level.

It came the day after he stunned defending champion Rafael Nadal in straight sets, becoming the first player to beat Nadal here since Novak Djokovic in the 2015 semi-finals.

“I was preparing for the match as best I can because he (Lajovic) has my ex-coach (Jose Perlas) 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.”

The 48th-ranked Lajovic’s run to his first career final was unexpected. But the unseeded Serb rarely threatened in humid, overcast and slightly windy conditions.

“It was my first time in a final, so a great experience for me,” he said.”Today was not easy to play, with a lot of wind. But Fabio is a guy who knows how to play in these conditions. He has great hands.”

Fognini needed a medical timeout to receive treatment to his right foot and right thigh after the fifth game of the second set.

But it did not impede him as he served out the match, clinching victory on his second match point when Lajovic hit a forehand wide.

The players hugged warmly at the net.

The 31-year-old Fognini is only the fourth man to win the clay-court event since Nadal’s first of a record 11 wins in 2005. Djokovic, twice, and Stan Wawrinka also won.

The last Italian before Fognini was Nicola Pietrangeli in 1968.

The 85-year-old Pietrangeli, a two-time French Open winner, stood and applauded as Fognini dropped to his knees to kiss the surface.

Pietrangeli walked gingerly onto the court and the pair hugged. Pietrangeli posed alongside Fognini as he held the trophy

The match started evenly enough, but Fognini broke for a 4-2 lead when Lajovic made an unforced error on a forehand. Fognini then held his serve with a typically flamboyant one-handed, cross-court backhand to take control.

Serving for the set, Fognini saved a break point with a forehand winner down the line, and then clinched it with an equally good backhand.

Fognini broke for a 3-2 lead in the second set when Lajovic hit a forehand wide.

After Fognini’s medical timeout, Lajovic missed an easy smash at 30-30 in the next game.
With that miss, his slim hopes faded.

 

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