Fabio Fognini crowned as the Monte Carlo Masters Champion
On the clay courts where he once practiced as a youth with big dreams, Fabio Fognini won the biggest title of his erratic career by beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 Sunday in the Monte Carlo Masters final.
Although it was Fognini’s ninth career title, it was his first at the Masters level and will help him push closer to the top 10. He’ll climb six places up to 12th.
The 13th-seeded Italian’s first title of the year came a day after he stunned defending champion Rafael Nadal in straight sets, becoming the first player to beat Nadal at the Monte Carlo Country Club since Novak Djokovic in the 2015 semifinals.
After going out in the third round of the Australian Open, Fognini had won only one match and lost six times before this tournament.
Fognini’s career has seen many flashes of brilliance, but also many temper tantrums. But there have always been question marks hanging over Fognini, and finally winning a Masters may help shed some self-doubt.
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.
Fognini needed a medical timeout to receive treatment on 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.
Fognini is only the fourth man to win the clay-court event since the first of Nadal’s record 11 wins in 2005. Djokovic won twice, and Stan Wawrinka also won.
The match started evenly enough, but Fognini broke for a 4-2 lead when Lajovic made an unforced error on his 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.