To say it would have been difficult to predict the outcome of the last days of the event in Monte Carlo—the season’s first Masters 1000 tournament on clay—is somewhat of an understatement. Indeed, the final showdown pitted Dusan Lajovic, ranked World No.48 at the start of the week, against Fabio Fognini (13).
After toppling Dominic Thiem (4) and Daniil Medvedev (10), Lajovic continued to build on the momentum he created at the Miami Open, where he defeated a string of worthy opponents, including Kei Nishikori (6), on his way to the third round.
Fognini, on the other hand, was seeking to redress a rather unsuccessful season thus far. He bounced Alexander Zverev (3) and Borna Coric (9) in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals before taking the semis by storm. Few would have imagined that the mighty Rafael Nadal, with an 11-4 record over the Italian and an impressive 11 (yes, 11!) Masters 1000 titles in his trophy case, would bow out before the final. Despite his 68 wins and 3 losses in the principality, the Spaniard couldn’t keep up and fell in two sets (6-4, 6-2).
A moment @fabiofogna will never forget… 👊
🎥 : @TennisTV | #RolexMCMasters pic.twitter.com/l88hDmcuuL
— ATP Tour (@atptour) April 20, 2019
On Sunday, Fabio Fognini and Dusan Lajovic both walked onto the court with their eyes on their very first Masters 1000 title.
With the crowd firmly behind him, Fognini overcame injury and earned a 6-3, 6-4 win to secure the crown.
You’ve just won your first #ATPMasters1000 title 🏆
🎥: @TennisTV | #RolexMCMasters pic.twitter.com/kDjFsr5fFb
— ATP Tour (@atptour) April 21, 2019
After the match, Fognini explained how at home he feels in Monte Carlo. He grew up just 50 km away, in San Remo, Italy, and trained in Monaco at the start of his career. Taking the top honours in front of his loved ones was a special moment.
“I think they feel happy now because I have my name on this tournament. It’s something that I’ve been dreaming of since I was really young,” he said. “I have everything in my life. I have a baby. I have a wife. They are with me all the time, so there’s nothing more to ask than that.”
Fognini is the first Italian player to win in Monte Carlo since 1968, when Nicola Pietrangeli, who was in the stands on Sunday to cheer on his countryman, dominated the field.
(Feature photo: AFP)