Fognini stuns Mur­ray

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ROME: De­fend­ing cham­pion and World No 1 Andy Mur­ray was swept aside by home favourite Fabio Fognini at the Ital­ian Open on Tues­day, be­ing com­pletely out­played in a 6-2, 6-4 de­feat.

Only a late spell of re­sis­tance when he reeled off three games at 1-5 in the sec­ond set kept the score­line re­spectable as the Bri­tish player’s wor­ry­ing slump in form con­tin­ued ahead of this month’s French Open.

An in­spired Fognini, whose wife for­mer US Open cham­pion Flavia Pen­netta is ex­pect­ing their first child this week, thumped 31 win­ners in his first vic­tory over a world num­ber one.

Mur­ray has won only five of his last 10 matches but while he con­tin­ues to search for some spark in a lack­lus­tre clay­court sea­son, No­vak Djokovic, the man he usurped as world num­ber one last Novem­ber, is find­ing his just in time for Roland Gar­ros.

The Serb built on last week’s en­cour­ag­ing show­ing in Madrid to beat qual­i­fier Al­jaz Be­dene 76(2), 6-2 in his open­ing match.

Djokovic has strug­gled for form this year and re­cently split with his en­tire coach­ing staff but his game looked in good or­der against Be­dene on Court Cen­trale in Rome.

He was pushed hard in the open­ing set by 55th-ranked Be­dene and had to re­cover an early ser­vice break but he stepped on the gas in the sec­ond set to cruise through to the third round.

“A lit­tle bit of a slow start, but Be­dene is the kind of player that gives you good rhythm,” World No 2 Djokovic, beaten in the Madrid semis by Rafael Nadal, said.

“I had some good ex­changes, some good games with ral­lies and it felt right, espe­cially in the sec­ond set.”

There were also wins for sixth seed Marin Cilic against Amer­i­can Ryan Har­ri­son and ninth seed David Gof­fin, who came from a set down to beat Spain’s Fer­nando Ver­dasco.

David Ferrer won an all-Span­ish clash with Feli­ciano Lopez for his 700th ca­reer win.

Aus­tralian Nick Kyr­gios with­drew with a hip in­jury. Reuters

Fabio Fognini.

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