Fabio Fognini was the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Sunday, defeating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 38 minutes in one hour.
"I'm really, really happy." Nothing to say, "said Fognini. "I have to stay calm, maybe take a shower, relax and think about it, because it's unbelievable."
The 13th seed turned four of five breakpoints to become the lowest placed player to pick up the trophy since his teammate. Gustavo Kuertens title race took place in 1999. Fognini will rise to the number 12 career with the release of the latest ATP ranking list on Monday.
"I prepared myself as well as I can for the match because he knew my coaches and I knew it would be really hard to run a lot," Fognini said. "[It̵
Fognini's title in the Principality comes after a difficult start to the season. The nine-time tour-level title went to the Monte-Carlo Country Club with a win in his eight most recent tour-level games, losing all of his four matches to sand this year.
Fognini's trip to the trophy was full of drama. The 31-year-old rebounded 4: 6, 1: 4 in his first round match against Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev and lost 1-0 to Borna Coric in the quarter-finals.
In addition to comeback victories against Rublev and Coric, Fognini defeated two top-5 opponents in straight sets this week. The Italian stormed the number 3 of the World Cup Alexander Zverev into the quarter-finals and astonished the eleven-time champion Rafael Nadal in the last four. Fognini is the first player to beat Nadal on his way to a clay court title since Pablo Cuevas won the Rio Open presented by Claro in 2016.
After Fognini had given up his second service on Court Rainier III, Fognini stood on the first set of 2-2 with precision and power. The Italian pressed his backhand flat to push Lajovic past the baseline. After a well-placed drop-shot he brought the match with a forehand volleyball in the open field. Fognini scored a 4-2 lead after several unexpected mistakes by his opponent and took his first set on 44 minutes with his twelfth winner of the set. A perfectly matched backhand across the board.
With his forehand a decisive factor in his semi-final win over Nadal, Fognini continued to succeed in the wing at the start of the second set. Fognini broke with a 3: 2 lead with great defensive skills and picked up balls behind the baseline to extend points and make mistakes from his opponent. The 31-year-old claimed his lead to 5: 4 and served confidently to claim the title and turned his second match point when Lajovic returned his forehand.
Lowest The finalist of Monte-Carlo had been classified as the best finalist since 2001, when Hicham Arazi was named. Lajovic was the first unplayed player to win since Thomas Muster in 1992 at Monte-Carlo. The world no. 48 did not miss a set on the way to his first ATP Tour Final, defeating Malek Jaziri, David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Lorenzo Sonego and Daniil Medvedev to celebrate five consecutive victories at the Tour level for the first time in his career.
"It was my first time in a final, so a great experience for me," said Lajovic. "It was not easy to play today, with a lot of wind, but Fabio knows how to play in these conditions, he has great hands, he moves very well, I felt on the court that I had to work a lot I think that was the key.
"He was pretty stable and solid on both sides, moving well. And when I was on and aggressive, I could score points and put pressure on him. But sometimes my game was over. I had many unexpected mistakes. One thing was that it was windy. The other thing was that I was under the pressure of the final, and overall I think he was a much better player today. Congratulations to him. "
Fognini earns 1000 ATP leaderboard points and receives a prize money of € 958,055 Lajovic receives 600 points and € 484,950 for his run to the championship game.
Did you know?
Fognini is the eighth player, who won his first Masters 1000 title in the past 17 elite events: at the 92 ATP Masters 1000 events before 2017 in Rome, only eight players won their first Masters 1000 crown.