Who Will Take The Title?
Fabio Fognini and Dusan Lajovic wrap up a wild week on Sunday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters as both men battle for their first ATP Masters 1000 title. This is the first time that Monte-Carlo has featured two first-time Masters 1000 finalists since the Masters 1000 series began in 1990.
Fognini, seeded 13th, is competing in his first Masters 1000 singles final. He sent shockwaves through the tennis world with his semi-final upset of 11-time Monte-Carlo champion Rafael Nadal. Fognini won nine of the last 11 games and fired winners at will to hand the Spaniard one of the most one-sided losses of his career on clay.
The Italian’s current level is even more surprising given his form throughout the season. Fognini had a 4-8 record at the start of the week and arrived in Monte-Carlo having won just one of his past eight matches. He was down a set and 1-4 in his first-round match against Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev, but found a way to prevail and has continued to raise his level with each match.
“If you told me at the beginning of the week, I will see you on Sunday, I would [have] laughed in your face,” said Fognini. “I was 6-4, 4-1 down and break point for 5-1, and I [hit an] ace on the line. But that’s sport. So I was lucky. Now I’m in the final. And of course I go for the title tomorrow.”
Although Fognini has at times lost his concentration this tournament, he’s been able to regroup for incredible comeback wins. In addition to his victory over Rublev, he rallied from 1-6, 0-2 to defeat ninth seed Borna Coric of Croatia in the quarter-finals.
Lajovic looks to become the first man to win his first ATP Tour title at a Masters 1000 title event since Albert Portas (Hamburg 2001). The World No. 48 in the ATP Rankings hasn’t dropped drop a set this week and is the lowest-ranked Monte-Carlo finalist since Hicham Arazi in 2001. He had never reached an ATP Tour final before this week, but has been unfazed in handling the new occasions he’s found himself in.
Not even a blister on Lajovic’s toe has been able to stop his flawless all-court play. Although he acknowledged feeling discomfort with it, the Serbian is adamant that he won’t allow it to affect him in Sunday’s final.
“It’s pain every day. It takes a while to get ready to go on court,” said Lajovic. “I’m going to cut that toe off if it means I can play tomorrow.”
The doubles final features Dutch pair Wesley Koolhof and Robin Haase taking on seventh seeds Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor of Croatia. Mektic has won two Masters 1000 titles in the past 12 months (2018 Mutua Madrid Open w/Peya, 2019 BNP Paribas Open w/Zeballos). Skugor, Koolhof and Haase all seek their first title at this level.
If Fognini wins the title, he will:
+ Become the first Italian to win a Masters 1000 title, since the series debuted in 1990. He is already the first finalist from his country.;
+ Rise to a career-high in the ATP Rankings at No. 12
+ Become the first player to beat Rafael Nadal en route to a clay-court title since Pablo Cuevas in Rio de Janeiro in 2016
If Lajovic wins the title, he will:
+ Become the first unseeded player to win in Monte-Carlo since Thomas Muster in 1992
+ Become the first player to win his maiden ATP Tour title at a Masters 1000 event since Albert Portas in Hamburg in 2001
+ Crack the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings for the first time, rising to a career-high No. 19
+ Will join Novak Djokovic as the only Serbians to win a Masters 1000 singles title
ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2019
COURT RAINIER III start 11:30 am
Robin Haase (NED) / Wesley Koolhof (NED) vs  Nikola Mektic (CRO) / Franko Skugor (CRO)
Not Before 2:30 pm
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) vs  Fabio Fognini (ITA)