Fabio Fognini became the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title on Sunday at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters, beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 38 minutes.
"I'm really happy, nothing to say," said Fognini. "I have to stay calm, maybe take a shower, relax and think about it because it's something incredible."
The 13th seeded has converted four of the five break points into a bottom-ranked player to win the trophy since his compatriot Gustavo Kuerten, number 13, in 1999. Fognini will reach number 12 in career when the last ranking ATP will be released on Monday.
"I was preparing for the match as best as I could because he had my former coach and I knew it would be very difficult, a lot of running," Fognini said. "[It’s an] incredible achievement. I am really very happy. "
The title of Fognini in the Principality comes after a difficult start to the season. The nine round-level titles entered the Monte-Carlo Country Club with a win in their most recent eight round-robin games and had lost all four of their four clay matches this year.
Fognini's trip to the trophy was filled with drama. The 31-year-old recovered from 4-6 to 1-4 in his first-round match against Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev and also overturned the deficit from 1-6 to 0-2 against Borna Coric in quarterfinal.
In addition to the return wins against Rublev and Coric, Fognini also beat two Top 5 opponents this week in straight sets. The Italian beat world number 3 Alexander Zverev to qualify for the quarterfinals and knocked out champion 11-time Rafael Nadal in the last four. Fognini is the first player to beat Nadal en route to a clay-court title since Pablo Cuevas triumphed at the Rio Open presented by Claro in 2016.
After dropping his second service match on Court Rainier III, Fognini leveled the opening score at 2-2 with precision and power. The Italian flattened his defeat to push Lajovic behind the baseline and, after a well-placed shot, brought the match back on the open field. Fognini took a 4-2 lead after several unresolved errors from his opponent and took the first set after 44 minutes with his 12th set winner; a perfectly timed setback on the line.
With his forehand played a decisive role in his victory in the semifinal against Nadal, Fognini continued to enjoy success with this wing at the beginning of the first leg of the second set. Fognini opened the scoring for a 3-2 lead with great defensive skill, recovering balls behind the baseline to increase points and extract errors from his opponent. The 31-year-old kept his lead at 5-4 and served with confidence to win the title, converting his second match point while Lajovic confused his return with the forehand.
Finalist Monte-Carlo last place since Hicham Arazi in 2001, Lajovic has the ambition to become the first unclassed player to win at Monte Carlo since Thomas Muster in 1992. The world No. 48 has not fallen in Road to his first ATP final, beating Malek Jaziri, David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Lorenzo Sonego and Daniil Medvedev to record five straight victories at the tour for the first time in his career.
"It was my first time in the final, so a great experience for me," Lajovic said. "It was not easy to play today, with a lot of wind, but Fabio is a guy who knows how to play in these conditions, he has very good hands, he moves really well, so I thought on the ground that I had to work a lot harder than him to earn points, I think that was the key.
"He was pretty stable and solid on both sides, progressing well, and when I was on and when I was aggressive, I could earn points and put him under pressure." But sometimes, my game was just right. Many non-forced errors One thing was that it was windy The other thing was that I was under the pressure of the final of the moment and that in the Together, I think he was much better player today. Congratulations to him. "
Fognini wins 1000 points in the ATP ranking and receives 958 055 euros in prize money. Lajovic wins 600 points and € 484,950 for his race in the league match.
Did you know?
Fognini is the eighth player to win his first Masters 1000 title in the last 17 elite events. In the 92 ATP Masters 1000 events prior to Rome 2017, only eight players won their first Masters 1000 title.