ATP Monte Carlo: Paolo Lorenzi finishes strong over compatriot Fabio Fognini

In the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters, world number 53 Paolo Lorenzi outlasted fellow Italian Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-0, 6-1 in one hour and 21 minutes. The 34 year old notched his first head-to-head win over the world number 31 after previously losing in two tight three-set matches back in 2013.

Lorenzi fired seven aces and broke five times off of ten break point opportunities on his way to victory. It was an interesting matchup as the pair are very close off and on the court, playing this week as doubles partners while losing in the first round to Treat Huey and Max Miryni. They also practice throughout the year together and have played together on the Italian Davis Cup squad so they both were very familiar with each other’s games coming into the match.

Fabio Fognini (second to left) and Paolo Lorenzi (second to right) in Italian Davis Cup action. (Photo: Vincenzo Artiano)
Fabio Fognini (second to left) and Paolo Lorenzi (second to right) in Italian Davis Cup action. (Photo: Vincenzo Artiano)

It is Fognini’s first match back after suffering an abdominal injury in the round of 16 at the Rio Open which caused him to miss seven weeks from the tour. The Italian did not have many expectations coming into the match as he was just happy to get back on court and starting to build back his form.

Fognini Races Out To One Set Lead

A loose Fabio Fognini came out firing as he seemed to have joy on court in his comeback. The world number 31 was hitting a solid ball from the start while keeping Lorenzi off guard immediately. The Italian faced no break points as he won an impressive 91% of his first service points. This allowed the world number 31 to take his chances when he needed to on return as he broke twice to cruise through the set for a 6-2 first set finish. He showed no ill signs of his recovering abdominal issue early on.

Fabio Fognini hits a serve on the clay of Monte Carlo during his first round match. (Photo: EPA)
Fabio Fognini hits a serve on the clay of Monte Carlo during his first round match. (Photo: EPA)

Lorenzi Turns The Tables

It turned into to a completely different match for the remainder of play. Fognini’s service play dipped dramatically as he was not able to hit his serve with much pace. Lorenzi took advantage and immediately broke turning the momentum of the match around suddenly.

Fognini seemed to be sluggish and his fitness appeared to be an issue from there on out. The Italian, known to play without a mentally strong mindset, started to bail on points and produce errors point after point. Lorenzi capitalized by winning 70 percent of total return points to break three times off of four opportunities. He also held comfortably while facing no break points as well as winning 83 percent of first serve points despite making only 40 percent of first serves in. The world number 53 cruised to bagel his compatriot in the second set as the match headed to a decider.

Lorenzi Cruises to Victory

The third set was much of the same for Lorenzi. Fognini was still mentally and physically out of sorts as he produced 38 percent of first serves in. His lower ranked Italian opponent got many more opportunities to break. Lorenzi broke on two occasions with a bit more resistance off of six opportunities to gain the upper hand. Fognini was unable to find any break point chances as he won a poor 30 percent of return points in the set. It was inevitable that the world number 53 would finish victorious as he cruised to win the third set 6-1 and book his spot in the Monte Carlo Second round.

It does not get any easier for Lorenzi as he faces off against thirteenth seed Gael Monfils in the Second round, who previously dispatched of Gilles Muller 7-5, 6-0 in his first round match.