Monte Carlo: Fabio Fognini And The Trouble Of Holding Serve

Fabio Fognini of Italy failed to capitalize on a major opportunity to finally defeat his nemesis Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in the first round of the Monte-Carlo Masters 1000.

Fabio Fognini (zimbio.com)

MONTE-CARLO – On Easter Monday six seeded players took the court in Monte-Carlo and all emerged as winners. No. 9 seed Berdych prevailed over Kuztnesov, No. 12 Bautista Agut battled past Basilashvili, No. 13 Carreno Busta won a tough battle against Fognini, No. 12 Zverev dominated Seppi, No. 15 Ramos Vinolas had an easy task against Olivo and No. 16 Cuevas cruised past Troicki.

Fabio Fognini’s loss was a major disappointment for the very pro-Italian crowd that was cheering and supporting their countryman. Fabio, who experienced a breakthrough moment in his career by reaching the semifinals in Miami, was born in Arma di Taggia – a small Italian coast town located 30 minutes from the Monte-Carlo Country Club. Unfortunately the effort of his supporters was in vain.

When a player loses five matches in a row, it would be obvious to assume that the opponent is a better player and has a technical advantage that allows him to dominate their head-to-head.

On the other hand, by watching Fabio Fognini compete against the higher ranked Pablo Carreno Busta, it is very difficult to explain the dominance of the Spaniard over the Italian. Fabio is usually the better player throughout the match, but eventually loses the pivotal points.

Fognini is the type of player that often gives the impression that he is more talented than his competition, but at the end of the day his lack of consistency contributes to his demise. The illustrious Italian journalist Rino Tommasi used to say that each player should always remember to “hit the ball across the net once more than their opponent and eventually it might not come back anymore.”

The main reason why Fognini ended up losing today’s match is that his Spanish opposition was certainly more consistent and mentally tougher throughout the entire match. Fabio had moments of brilliance that were often overshadowed by his inconsistency.

Fabio had previously won only two sets in four matches against Carreno Busta, but today he quickly sprinted to a 4-2 lead and seemed on his way to owning the first set. When serving at 5-4, he committed a crucial double fault that ended up changing the entire momentum of the set. The double fault proved to be unnecessary. Fognini made the wrong decision of going for too much on his second serve despite the fact that Carreno Busta wasn’t applying pressure with his returns. By the end of the match, Fabio had committed a whopping 8 double faults.

“I was very unlucky in the most important moments of the match. I missed a couple of great shots by literally a millimeter or less and a key moment was decided by a net cord in my opponent’s favor,” Fognini said in his post-match press conference.

Fognini ended up losing the first set tie-breaker by 7 points to nothing, which unfortunately doesn’t leave much room for blaming his loss on bad luck.

Fabio found himself in a similar situation during the second set. He went up a break twice but failed to capitalize on his opportunities. Despite winning the second set tie-breaker and pushing the match to a third set, his return game dropped a level and ended up costing him the match. The decisive break occurred in the eighth game of the final set.

It was disappointing to see how Fognini accepted his defeat when he said:  “I played well and I am very happy with my level of play.”

Fabio also explained that the reason for most of his mistakes was that “I was trying to play aggressive and charge the net. I felt confident with my net game.” That was the game plan decided with Franco Davin – his Argentinian coach.

Fognini lost a great opportunity to advance to at least the third round where his potential opponent would more than likely have been Novak Djokovic. Carreno Busta will now face the winner between Mahut and Kachanov for the honor of playing the No. 2 player in the world.

Djokovic headlines Tuesday’s action

Today’s matches will be more than interesting. The most anticipated encounter will be Novak Djokovic’s return to the tour against Gilles Simon – a player that the Serb has a 10-1 record against. Despite the one-sided head-to-head, their round of 16 match at the Australian Open last year was an absolute five set-thriller that lasted 4 hours and 48 minutes. It is also important to remember that last year Djokovic suffered a first round loss to Vesely in Monte-Carlo, which proved to be one of his rare defeats in the first six months of the year. After his long-awaited victory at Roland Garros, he experienced a major letdown in the second part of the season.

2017 has been a year to forget for Novak so far. Today’s match will be a big test because Simon is the type of player that will not hand the match over to Djokovic. Novak will have to step up to the plate and win it. Murray and Nadal will certainly keep an eye of this intriguing match-up.

(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )

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