Fabio Fognini – His five most memorable moments
Fabio Fognini is among the most controversial and successful characters of men’s tennis in the past decade.
5. A foil to Nadal
Entering 2015, Fognini had faced Rafael Nadal four times, losing on every occasion and only managing a set off the Spaniard.
They met again in the semi-finals of the 2015 Rio Open, with Nadal the defending champion.
But Fognini completed an upset 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 for his first win over Nadal.
Two months on and the pair met again, this time in the round of 16 in Barcelona, where Nadal was the eight-time champion.
Fognini managed to win again, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), including pulling off this stunning winner to break Nadal as he served for the second set.
Nadal did defeat Fognini in their next meeting in the final of the Hamburg Open, before another clash came in the third round of the US Open.
Nadal quickly went two sets up to look nailed on for the win, especially considering he was 151-0 in Slam matches after going two sets to love up.
But Fognini dug deep to clinch an unlikely comeback, downing Nadal 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
A fifth meeting in 2015 in Beijing saw Nadal win, but Fognini still ended the season with a 3-2 winning record over the great.
4. Meltdowns versus Murray
Fognini came into the 2016 Rio Olympics unseeded for the event, but won his first two matches to set a meeting with defending gold medallist and world number two Andy Murray in the third round.
After splitting the first two sets, the Italian was a break up in the third and in with a chance to reach the quarter-finals.
But Fognini lost his cool before Murray stormed back to win 6-1, 2-6, 6-3, eventually going on to defend his Olympic title.
In the duo’s most recent meeting in Shanghai in 2019, Murray was irritated by what he considered hindrance coming from Fognini.
The Brit even told Fognini to ‘Shut up!’ when the Italian interrupted his discussion with the chair umpire.
In fact, Fognini then went on to win the encounter, leaving Murray bewildered by the earlier moment.
3. Going too far
Fognini is known for his fiery temper and bad behaviour on court.
At Wimbledon in 2019 during a third round defeat to Tenny Sandgren, he said “I wish a bomb would explode on this club.”
The Italian swiftly apologised for his comments, especially since he was under threat of a Slam ban for an earlier offence at the 2017 US Open.
During his first round loss there, Fognini called a female chair umpire a ‘whore’ and a ‘c***sucker’ in Italian.
On-court antics are one thing, but blatant misogyny is quite another.
The then 30-year-old was fined US$96,000 for the outburst and suspended from the US Open, meaning he and partner Simone Bolelli were defaulted from their third round doubles match.
Fognini accepted the fine and apologised, before he further received a two-year suspended Slam sentence should he have committed a similar offence in 2018 or 2019, which he did not.
2. Doubles Slam champion
While that doubles default with Bolelli was part of a tournament to forget for Fognini, the earlier 2015 Australian Open was certainly one to remember for the countrymen.
The pair had twice reached the semi-finals of a Slam together, at the US Open in 2011 and Australian Open in 2013.
Come the 2015 Australian Open, Fognini and Bolelli were unseeded and without a run past even the second round of a Slam since Melbourne in 2013.
But they were in form on the Aussie hard courts, taking out 10th seeds Raven Klaasen and Leander Paes in the second round before another upset over sixth seeds Jean-Julien Roger and Horia Tecau.
Fognini and Bolelli then defeated fellow unseeded finalists Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 6-4 in what was a first Slam doubles final for all but Mahut, who reached the 2013 French Open final.
The victory meant Fognini and Bolelli were the first Italian team to win a men’s doubles Slam in the Open Era, the last pairing to do so being Nicola Pietrangeli and Orlando Sirola at the 1959 French Open.
1. A Masters triumph
Prior to 2019, Fognini had claimed eight ATP titles in his career, seven coming on clay. Only one of those eight titles was at ATP 500 level, with the other seven being 250 events.
Fognini had never reached a Masters 1000 final, making it to the semi-finals of Monte Carlo in 2013 and Miami in 2017.
Then came the 2019 Monte Carlo Masters. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were the top two seeds and favourites to meet in the final, whilst Fognini was seeded 13th.
However, after Fognini defeated Alexander Zverev and Borna Coric on his way to the semi-finals, a final spot for the Italian was on the cards, but he was up against none other than 11-time champion Nadal, who had not lost at the event since 2015.
But Fognini stepped up to defeat the Spaniard 6-4, 6-2 to set a meeting with another surprise finalist in Dusan Lajovic.
He came through that match in straight sets too, 6-3, 6-4, to become the first Italian champion in Monte Carlo for over 50 years.
Honourable mention: David Cup heroics
On a day of dominance from Fognini, he took on Andy Murray in Naples in the quarter-finals of the 2014 Davis Cup between Italy and Great Britain.
On the Sicilian clay, the home favourite dismantled the then two-time Slam champion in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in front of jubilant crowd to keep Italy alive in the tie, a tie they went on to win to reach the semi-finals.
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