Fognini, Nadal’s conqueror wins Monte Carlo Masters

Rafael Nadal in action. More

Fabio Fognini finished off his best career week capturing his biggest title in Monte Carlo today, overwhelming Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4.

Fabio Fognini became the first Italian to win a singles Masters 1000 title.

"I was born in San Remo, and I was practicing here when I was young".

After a rare setback on clay, an honest Nadal praised Fognini while admitting "everything" had gone wrong for him.

"I'm really exhausted now, I've been running all week".

World number 18 Fognini entered the Monte Carlo Masters on a five-match losing streak but beat Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric and 11-time victor Rafael Nadal en route to the final.

"It was my first time in a final, so a great experience for me", the Serbian said.

On every one of those he was a favourite, yet lost to Aljaz Bedene, Jaume Munar, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jiri Vesely, taking just one set in the process, and on Twitter earlier, I put a poll up asking what Fognini's SP would have been if this match took place in round one at this time last week.

Fognini pushed the pedal to the floor in the second set, racing to a 5-0 lead against a sub-par Nadal and survived a late rally by the Spaniard to prevail 6-2 and advance to his first-ever final in a Masters 1000 tournament.

Somehow, he's turned it all around - and it feels exhausting.

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"I've been with more problems than I would have liked, but from there I have hope and work to try to make good ground on the tour. We are talking about a Masters".

Fognini's career has seen many flashes of brilliance - his flicked, laser-beam forehands fly down the line at astonishing speed and his cross-court backhand is equally unsafe - but also many temper tantrums.

"There was little chance for me to start the clay-court season in a ideal way", he insisted.

But there have always been question marks hanging over Fognini, and finally winning a Masters may help shed some self-doubt.

Lajovic still is yet to drop a set during the entire tournament, and has made his first Masters final in the process.

The 48th-ranked Lajovic's run to his first career final was unexpected. But the unseeded Serb rarely threatened in humid, overcast and slightly windy conditions.

No wonder, Fognini was vocal of the importance that his family holds for him.

The second set was recap of the first set with Fabio Fognini breaking Lajovic serve in the fifth game.

Lajovic graciously acknowledged he was outplayed. His opponent had never been to this stage of a grand slam before and had won just one game when the pair met a month prior at the Italian Open.

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