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ATP Umag: Can Fognini make it a hat-trick?

Steven Webb in ATP Tour 22 Jul 2013
Fabio Fognini is up to 19th in the ATP rankings after title victories in Stuttgart and Hamburg.

Man of the moment Fabio Fognini heads to Umag bidding for his third title in as many weeks. 

Having scooped the first trophy of his career at the 250 event in Stuttgart last weekend, the Italian won an even bigger prize on Sunday: the ATP 500 German Tennis Championships. After knocking out Tommy Haas and Nicolas Almagro, the second and third seeds respectively, Fognini saved three match points against Federico Delbonis in the Hamburg final. He collected €114,510 in prize money, and jumped to 19th in the ATP rankings.

So can the 26-year old continue his clay court winning streak at the Croatia Open this week? The good news for the fatigued Fognini is that, as a top four seed, he will receive a bye into the second round. There, he will face either Dmitry Tursunov or Thiemo de Bakker. 

In the quarter-finals, he is seeded to meet sixth seed Martin Klizan, and in the last four he is expected to face the man he defeated in Monte Carlo back in April, Richard Gasquet. Should he manage a second straight win over the Frenchman, an all-Italian final with Andreas Seppi beckons.

However, ATP 250 events rarely adhere to the seedings, and there are countless floaters in the top half of the draw capable of upsetting the star players in Umag. Gael Monfils lurks in Gasquet’s section of the draw, and has beaten his higher-ranked compatriot on clay before; he also has a winning record against Fognini. 

Albert Ramos and Paolo Lorenzi are accomplished clay courters and either man could beat Klizan to book a last eight date with Fognini. Although Fognini is 4-0 in his head-to-head with Ramos, he was pushed to the limit during his sole victory over Lorenzi, a two-and-three-quarter hour marathon in Oeiras earlier this year.

The bottom half of the Umag draw looks to be more favourable for the seeded players, but all four will be confident of derailing Fognini’s campaign for a third successive title. The experienced Tommy Robredo, the fifth seed in Croatia, reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals in June and has beaten the Italian three times in four meetings. Fourth-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov dismissed Fognini in straight sets in Umag last year, and Carlos Berlocq, the eighth seed, is riding high following his first ever title in Bastad last week. Fognini would perhaps prefer to contest the final with second-seeded Seppi, who he has beaten three times out of seven.

Given the strength in depth of the ATP Tour, very few men win three titles in a row. Even if there aren’t as many top players in Umag as there were in Hamburg, Fognini faces a tough route to securing a third consecutive trophy. Yet the personable Italian has the all-important confidence factor as he heads to Croatia. He is enjoying his tennis, and has proven his mettle against the best in the game. Unless he suffers a post-triumph letdown, it will take a superb performance to stop him from extending his 10-match streak.

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ATP Umag: Can Fognini make it a hat-trick?

Fabio Fognini has won two titles in a row - can he make it three in Umag?

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