By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, April 17, 2017
Pablo Carreno Busta beat Fabio Fognini for the fifth time in as many meetings, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, to reach the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters second round.
Photo credit: Getty
Five career encounters with the enigmatic Fabio Fognini have taught Pablo Carreno Busta a valuable lesson: Focus can be fleeting.
Fresh off his run to the Miami Open semifinals, Fognini produced periods of magical shotmaking. But Carreno Busta drained critical errors at critical stages to continue his mastery of the theatrical Italian.
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Carreno Busta exploited more than 50 errors from his opponent beating Fognini for the fifth time in as many meetings, 7-6 (0), 6-7 (4), 6-3, to advance to the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters second round.
In a rematch of the 2016 Moscow final, Fognini fought back from 2-4 down and served for the first set at 5-4, but could not close.
Driving deeper shots throughout the tie break, Carreno Busta cruised through the breaker at love, snatching a one-set lead on a Fognini double fault.
The Fognini toss and second serve were both unruly at times today: He committed eight double faults.
Stepping up to serve for the match at 6-5, 30-all in the second set, Carreno Busta was victimized by Fognini’s creativity.
Sliding forward to take a high-bounding ball on the rise, Fognini tapped an audacious drop shot winner for break point. When the 13th-seeded Spaniard netted a low slice, Fognini forced the tie break.
Fognini caught fire striking successive forehand winners then a bold backhand return down the line for 6-4. Another forehand winner gave Fognini the set, prompting sister Fulvia to leap from her seat in celebration.
Carreno Busta is the more consistent player and more stable competitor between the two men and those assets helped him squeeze out his third three-set win in five meetings with Fognini.
Serving at 3-4 in the decider, Fognini lost track of his toss. Then he scattered a backhand down the line wide to face double break point.
Racing forward, Carreno Busta chased down a dropper and dug out an angled answer breaking with an emotional double fist pump for 5-3.
Spinning a kick serve out wide, Carreno Busta earned double match point at two hours, 22 minutes. A final forehand crosscourt ended it, raising Carreno Busta's career record to 5-0 against Fognini.
Alexander Zverev warmed up for Monte Carlo practicing with Rafael Nadal then tuned up Andreas Seppi in his opener. The 14th-seeded Zverev broke serve five times in a 6-1, 6-2, sweep that required just 68 minutes.
Zverev, who celebrates his 20th birthday on Thursday, will play either Feliciano Lopez or Daniil Medvedev in round two.
No. 16-seeded Pablo Cuevas crushed Viktor Troicki, 6-3, 6-0, setting up a second-round match with Joao Sousa. Cuevas, who claimed his third straight Sao Paulo title last month, beat the 38th-ranked Serbian for the first time in four meetings.
In the first ATP clash between British Davis Cup teammates and good friends, Kyle Edmund dismantled Dan Evans, 7-5, 6-1.
The 45th-ranked Edmund’s reward for his first career Monte-Carlo victory is a date with nine-time champion Nadal.
Diego Schwartzman handed Bernard Tomic his sixth opening-round loss in seven tournaments this season, 6-1, 7-6 (3). Schwartzman advanced to a second-round match with Roberto Bautista Agut.
The 12th-seeded Spaniard rallied past Nikoloz Basilashvili, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.