Every week Baseline will select a “Player of the Week.” That athlete may not always win the highest category tournament that week, but perform the best compared to their recent playing history.
If there is one word that could describe Fabio Fognini, it is unpredictable. The Italian has beaten two Top 5 players in straight sets this season, while also losing three lopsided matches against opponents ranked outside of the Top 100 over the course of the last year.
So it wasn’t completely shocking when the 30-year-old dropped his first set of in Gstaad against world No. 87-ranked Norbert Gombos, 6-1. But the former world No. 13 found a way to win that match and three more at the Swiss Open to capture his fifth career title.
He would close out the final in straight sets over qualifier Yannick Hanfmann on Sunday, 6-4, 7-5.
“I remember my first match was really difficult. I couldn't play. I lost the first set 6-1 in 20 minutes, but in the end I won the match,” Fognini said. “I said to my team that if I continue playing like that, I'll go home. That's the sport. Every day I was feeling better and now I'm here with the title."
For a while it looked like Fognini would have to end up winning all of his matches in three sets, as Hanfmann had game point at 5-5 in the second set, but the Italian managed to earn a break point. That was when he hit arguably the return of the week. Fognini had to shuffle six steps to his left while more than five feet behind the baseline to return a kick serve in the ad court, throwing a high defensive backhand deep. The depth let Fognini gain traction in the point, before later ripping a backhand passing shot to earn the decisive break.
That was the point that ultimately put Fognini in position to win title No. 5, after a week full of tight matches.
The new father actually lost five more points than Gombos in the second round, and then played for almost a combined four hours against Ernests Gulbis and second-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut on the red clay.
Even though Fognini thought he had no chance to win the title after his tough opener. “I would’ve laughed in your face,” he said, but he managed to find his form and with it, another trophy.
“It’s a crazy sport,” Fognini said. “Like me sometimes.”
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