No spam ever. Unsubscribe in one click. By submitting your email address, you indicate your consent to receiving email marketing messages from us.

Fabio Fognini vs Yannick Hanfmann Swiss Open Gstaad tennis live: Qualifier Hanfmann’s dream run likely to end in first ATP final

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 29 Jul 2017
  • Fabio Fognini faces qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the final of the Swiss Open Gstaad on Sunday
  • Fognini vs Hanfmann Swiss Open tennis is live from Gstaad on Sunday at 11.30am local/10.30am BST
Fabio Fognini

Fabio Fognini looks to be headed for a fifth ATP World Tour clay-court title at the Swiss Open Gstaad on Sunday – but he’ll have to beat Yannick Hanfmann, something that’s been very difficult to do this week, to do it. 

Could qualifier Yannick Hanfmann cap his dream week at the Swiss Open Gstaad by capturing the title or will the more experienced Fabio Fognini be the champion on Sunday?

A former college tennis player at the University of Southern California, Hanfmann graduated in 2015 and set about making a career for himself on the ATP World Tour. Ranked world no. 737 this time two years ago, the 25-year-old German rose over 400 places in the rankings over the course of the 2016 season, winning two Futures titles and reaching three finals besides. 

By the end of 2016, Hanfmann was playing on the Challenger Tour and up to world no. 353, and his meteoric rise has only gathered speed in 2017. The German, who has been hearing impaired since birth (but says it bothered him more in the classroom than it does on the court), qualified successfully for Challengers in Budapest, Bergamo and Leon in the first three months of the season before qualifying for the ATP World Tour event in Munich where he defeated eighth seed Thomaz Bellucci to reach the quarterfinals. Hanfmann went on to finish runner-up at the Shymkent Challenger before successfully qualifying for Stuttgart, although he wasn’t able to make the main draw in Halle or at Wimbledon.

Hanfmann’s results in Challengers in Marburg and Braunschweig over the past couple of weeks weren’t great, but he’s been absolutely flourishing in Gstaad, where he romped through qualifying for the loss of just five games. Since then, he’s won four straight three-set matches against higher-ranked opponents, beating world no. 107 Facundo Bagnis, defending champion Feliciano Lopez, eighth seed Joao Sousa and finally Robin Haase – who had beaten top seed David Goffin in a previous round – 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4), saving four match points on the way, to make the final.

‘This means a lot to me,’ the German said. ‘Reaching my first final after saving four match points today is amazing. I really like the conditions here and the altitude suits my game. The ball bounces higher here. Tomorrow I will be the outsider again and I will give everything. I never expected to reach the final at the beginning of the week.’

Once again, as Hanfmann pointed out, he will be on the wrong side of a hefty deficit in experience and rankings in Sunday’s final against Fabio Fognini, the Italian who is pursuing his fifth clay-court ATP World Tour title in Gstaad.

Playing the Swiss Open for the first time in a decade after losing in qualifying all the way back in 2007, Fognini is trying to win his first title since last year’s Croatia Open. The Italian, who recently became a father after marrying US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, won back-to-back clay-court titles in Stuttgart and Hamburg in 2013 and made the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters, leading to a career-high ranking of world no. 13 in 2014 after winning Vina del Mar and reaching finals in Buenos Aires and Munich. Runner-up in Rio de Janeiro and Hamburg in 2015, the same year he scored victories over Rafael Nadal on clay in Rio and on hard courts at the US Open from two sets down – Nadal’s first ever Grand Slam defeat after winning the first two sets – Fognini struggled with injury in 2016 and slid down the rankings despite winning Umag and finishing runner-up in Moscow.

Fognini made a slow start to the 2017 season, making little impact in January or during the Golden Swing, but beat seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to make the round of 16 at Indian Wells then beat Donald Young and Kei Nishikori, among others, to reach the semifinals of the Miami Masters, losing to Nadal in straight sets. His clay season wasn’t impressive – although he did beat world no. 1 Andy Murray in straight sets in Rome – but he did make the third round of Roland Garros, an achievement he duplicated at Wimbledon.

His Umag title defense ended in the quarterfinals by lucky loser and eventual champion Andrey Rublev, Fognini – like Hanfmann – has had to go to three sets multiple times to book his place in the Gstaad final, going the distance with world no. 93 Norbert Gombos before having to really battle in a good tussle with Ernests Gulbis, prevailing as the Latvian’s serve went away in the third. In the semifinals, Fognini lost the first set but scored a good comeback win against world no. 18 Roberto Bautista Agut, not an easy man to put away.

‘I'm happy because my first match here was a horrible feeling, but I'm feeling better day by day. My game has improved,’ Fognini said. ‘Tomorrow is going to be a tough match because he's beaten a lot of good players. I saw him play this whole week and told my team that he's going to be dangerous. But I'm going to go for it and try to win the title.’

Unsurprisingly, Fognini and Hanfmann have never played but it’s a promising encounter. Hanfmann has been serving big this whole week in Gstaad, where he seems to be enjoying the altitude, and he beat Haase by constantly going for audacious ploys – and making them more often than not. I’m not sure that will serve him well against a player of Fognini’s quality, who couples excellent shotmaking and underrated variety with great athleticism and good defense. It would be an amazing story if Hanfmann could keep his dream run going all the way to the final, but it’s much more likely that we’ll see Fognini prevail at the Swiss Open on Sunday. 

Fognini vs Hanfmann is scheduled on Centre Court in Gstaad at 11.30am local/10.30am BST

Share this with your friends

Your comments:

Fabio Fognini vs Yannick Hanfmann Swiss Open Gstaad tennis live: Qualifier Hanfmann’s dream run likely to end in first ATP final

Fabio Fognini’s experience should be too much for Yannick Hanfmann, who has been on a tear this week in Gstaad: Swiss Open tennis live from Gstaad

Read more »

You have unread messages

You have unread messages