AP Photo

Shapovalov’s clay-court campaign begins with first-round loss

Leave a comment

MONACO — Denis Shapovalov’s clay-court campaign got off to a poor start as he lost 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 to Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.

The 20-year-old Shapovalov arrived after a good run on hard courts at the Miami Open, where he lost to Roger Federer in the semifinals.

But the Monte Carlo clay got the better of the big-hitting Canadian, seeded 15th. The unseeded German picked apart his serve, converting six of 16 break points.

Struff next faces Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who lost in the semifinals to Rafael Nadal last year.

Nadal, the defending champion, starts his bid for a record-extending 12th title on Wednesday against fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, who won 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 against John Millman on Monday.

Nadal has not played since pulling out of his semifinal against Federer at Indian Wells last month because of an injury to his right knee. Nadal said Monday he resumed practice two weeks ago and feels fit.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic faces unseeded Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round on Tuesday. Djokovic has won eight of their 10 matches, but Kohlschreiber recently beat him at Indian Wells.

Also on Monday, 10th-seeded Daniil Medvedev; No. 11 Marco Cecchinato; No. 13 Fabio Fognini, and No. 16 David Goffin advanced, but No. 12 Nikoloz Basilashvili went out.

Medvedev did not face a break point in a 6-1, 6-1 win against Joao Sousa. Cecchinato, a French Open semifinalist last year, was leading 4-0 when Damir Dzumhur pulled out.

Goffin won 6-1, 6-4 against qualifier Guido Andreozzi, but Fognini had a tougher match.

The hot-tempered Italian player had the crowd on his side as he rallied to a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 win against unseeded Russian Andrey Rublev.

Basilashvili lost 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

Other unseeded first-round winners Monday: Kohlschreiber; Radu Albot; Martin Klizan; Mikhail Kukushkin; Lorenzo Sonego; Jaume Munar and Dusan Lajovic.

Fognini beats Lajovic to win Monte Carlo Masters

AP Images
Leave a comment

MONACO (AP) Fabio Fognini won the biggest title of his career after beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 Sunday in the Monte Carlo Masters final.

The 13th-seeded Italian’s first title of the year was his ninth overall but first at Masters level.

It came the day after he stunned defending champion Rafael Nadal in straight sets, becoming the first player to beat Nadal here since Novak Djokovic in the 2015 semifinals.

“It has been an incredible week, I will keep working,” Fognini said. “I started the season badly so this is unbelievable.”

After going out in the third round of the Australian Open, Fognini had won only one match and lost six times before this tournament.

Playing here may have given him a boost, however, since he grew up in nearby San Remo – just over the Italian border and a short drive or train ride away along the glittering Mediterranean coast.

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.

Fognini needed a medical timeout to receive treatment to his right foot and right thigh after the fifth game of the second set.

But it did not impede him as he served out the match, clinching victory on his second match point when Lajovic hit a forehand wide.

The players hugged warmly at the net.

The 31-year-old Fognini is only the fourth man to win the clay-court event since Nadal’s first of a record 11 wins in 2005. Djokovic, twice, and Stan Wawrinka also won.

The last Italian before Fognini was Nicola Pietrangeli in 1968.

The 85-year-old Pietrangeli, a two-time French Open winner, stood and applauded as Fognini dropped to his knees to kiss the surface.

Pietrangeli walked gingerly onto the court and the pair hugged. Pietrangeli posed alongside Fognini as he held the trophy

The match started evenly enough, but Fognini broke for a 4-2 lead when Lajovic made an unforced error on forehand. Fognini then held his serve with a typically flamboyant one-handed, cross-court backhand to take control.

Serving for the set, Fognini saved a break point with a forehand winner down the line, and then clinched it with an equally good backhand.

Fognini broke for a 3-2 lead in the second set when Lajovic hit a forehand wide.

After Fognini’s medical timeout, Lajovic missed an easy smash at 30-30 in the next game.

With that miss, his slim hopes faded.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Fed Cup: Stephens pulls U.S. even with Swiss after Keys upset

AP Photo
Leave a comment

SAN ANTONIO — Sloane Stephens beat Timea Bacsinzsky after Viktorija Golubic upset Madison Keys in straight sets Saturday, leaving the United States and Switzerland tied 1-1 in their Fed Cup World Group playoff.

Stephens, the No. 8 player in the world, won 6-4, 6-3 on the hard court inside Freeman Coliseum. Her win for the Americans was crucial after the 80th-ranked Golubic was in control throughout in a 6-2, 6-3 victory over the No. 14 Keys.

Stephens is scheduled to play Golubic on Sunday, followed by Keys against Bacsinzsky. If necessary, Sophia Kenin and Jessica Pegula of the United States would play Ylena In-Albon and Conny Perrin in doubles.

The winning team moves to the 2020 World Group draw. The losing team is relegated to World Group II next season.

Stephens came back from deficits of 3-1 in the first set and 2-0 in the second against Bacsinzsky.

Stephens broke Bacsinzky in the seventh game of the second set to take the lead, and Bacsinzky became error prone after she was called for a questionable double hit in the eighth game.

In the first match, Keys made 47 unforced errors and was 0 for 4 on break points against the soft serving Golubic.

Golubic broke Keys twice in the first set and never let her wrest the momentum after dropping the first game of the second. With the score 3-3, Golubic rallied from down 40-15 in the seventh game to break Keys, who dropped to 4-5 in Fed Cup singles matches.

The Americans have won all eight meetings against Switzerland in Fed Cup play.