Rome, May 11 (IANS) Italian Fabio Fognini caused a big upset at home, earning his biggest win of the season when he defeated Scot Andy Murray at the Internazionali d’Italia.
Fognini, a former Top 10 player, has been going through a struggle in 2023 and had arrived at the Foro Italico with a 2-8 tour-level record. However, the Italian wild card thrilled the Rome crowd with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory to reach the second round after two hours and 54 minutes on Wednesday evening.
“For sure I’m happy because coming back from injury is never easy, especially at our age. But winning here in Rome against a really big player like Andy, I mean I’m happy,” Fognini said in his on-court interview.
“Now it’s important to recover and let’s see how I recover and I wake up tomorrow because it’s going to be tricky and a nice question to my mind if I will recover well. But I just want to enjoy this night and go home with this victory,” Fognini was quoted as saying by ATP Tour on its website.
The veterans entered the match having split their first eight ATP head-to-head clashes. This was their first meeting since 2019 in Shanghai, where Fognini won a final-set tie-break. They played at the Foro Italico in 2017 when Murray was the No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings. Fognini emerged victorious in straight sets on that occasion.
It was clear from the early moments of Wednesday’s match that it would turn into a battle of wills. Both men worked hard for every point, with the first six games taking 48 minutes and the first set lasting 73 minutes.
Fognini came out on top in the first set, as he prevented Murray from weaving his tricky strategic web from the baseline. The Italian broke serve on his sixth opportunity and surged through the rest of the set against last week’s Aix-en-Provence ATP Challenger Tour 175 champion.
Murray raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set and though Fognini got back on serve before losing the set.
In the third set, Fognini dominated in his service games, losing just three points on serve throughout the set. Murray let slip a break immediately by missing a short forehand wide and was never able to recover.
Frenchman Arthur Fils earned his first ATP Masters 1000 main draw win when he defeated fellow qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo of Argentina 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
Fils ousted Fognini in the final round of qualifying at last year’s Paris Masters before losing in a rematch with the Italian in the first round of the main draw. They will meet again in Rome if they both reach the third round.
Fils will face a stiff challenge from seventh seed Holger Rune, who lifted the trophy last year at Paris-Bercy. Fognini will face 30th seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia.