Italy’s Fabio Fognini has won Monte Carlo Masters, beating unseeded Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4.
It was Fognini first maiden ATP Masters 1000 title and was significant as the Italian hadn’t won a match on clay all year before this week, when en route he shocked clay specialist Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-2 in the semi-final, to end Nadal’s 25 win streak and his hope for the 12th title.
Fognini also beat Alexander Zverev in Round 3 and Borna Coric in the quarter finals, all seeded higher than he was.
The 31 year-old has become the first Italian to win the Monte Carlo title in more than half a century.
The last Italian to win at the tornament was Nicola Pietrangeli in 1968. Pietrangeli also won the trophy in 1961 and 1967.
He came to the court after the trophy ceremony to pose for pictures with his new tennis heir, who was following up his shock semi-final win over 11-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal.
“I was born nearby so this is extraordinary,” Fognini said.
“I started the season rather badly, so this is unbelievable. I’m very content with this victory, especially with all of the Italians here today.”
The 48th-ranked Serb Lajovic was playing in the first ATP final of his career and got to the title match without the loss of a set.
Fognini looked to be temporarily hampered as he limped momentarily after breaking Lajovic for 3-2 in the second after claiming the opening set in 44 minutes.
During a medical timeout, he was taped on his right thigh and a heel, but carried on without apparent problems as he finished the final on his second match point as Lajovic returned long.
The winner of his first Masters 1000 trophy came to the first major week of the pre-Roland Garros run-up with a 0-4 record on the clay, the surface he grew up on.
Among his victims this week was number three Alexander Zverev, and his stunning stunning 6-4, 6-2 victory over Nadal on Saturday to end the Spanish star’s 25-set win streak in the principality.