Monte Carlo: Rafa Nadal suffered a shock 4-6, 2-6 semifinal defeat against his old nemesis the flamboyant Italian Fabio Fognini at the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament here Saturday showing rare signs of weakness five weeks before the French Open.
But then it shouldn’t be viewed as an upset as Fognini is one of the players who have always troubled Nadal. The Italian has won five of his 15 encounters against Nadal on the circuit and three of those have come on clay.
The 11-time champion’s loss in tricky conditions ended a series of 25 consecutive sets won on his favourite clay as Fognini set up a final showdown against Serbian Dusan Lajovic.
“It was a tough day and he was a difficult opponent,” said Nadal. “I am coming from low moments in terms of injuries, and in terms of the mental side it has not been easy to accept all the things that have been going on. “It was this kind of day that everything was wrong,” added the Spaniard.
In windy conditions at the Monte Carlo Country Club here, Nadal, who has also won 11 French Open titles, was overwhelmed by Fognini, who entered centre court with all guns blazing.
The Italian was on a five-match losing streak when he entered the tournament but Fognini’s unpredictability, added to the weather conditions, were eventually too much for the Spanish World No.2, who bowed out on the fourth match point.
Earlier, Lajovic reached his first Masters final when he mastered the wind to beat Russian Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-1. Lajovic trailed 0-3 and 1-5 in the opening set before going through the gears.
“It was an incredible match today,” said World No. 48 Lajovic, the lowest-ranked player to reach the final here since, Hicham Arazi in 2001.