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By Blair Henley | Monday, March 24, 2014


Fabio Fognini has played some of his best tennis over the past year. He's also left fans scratching their heads in confusion.  

(Photo Credit: Christopher Levy)

Let’s be honest: attempting to understand the psychology of Fabio Fognini is a fruitless pursuit. The minute you think you’ve got a handle on the world No. 14 is the minute he will pull his pants down in protest.
The combustible Italian and (maybe) love interest of 2014 Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta has impressed with his play in the last year, notching three titles and raising his ranking from outside the top 40 to inside the top 15. The 26-year-old has also puzzled us with intentional double faults and incomprehensible losses. In other words, you never know what you’re going to get. It’s maddening and delightful all at the same time.
Fognini spoke to Tennis Now at the Sony Open where he attempted to shed some light on his mental approach to the game.
Some would feel overwhelming pressure to sustain the level you’ve attained over the past year. Do you feel that? It doesn’t seem like it. 
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. We work for that, so it’s nice sometimes to have some pressure. At the same time, I always say that the year is very long. I just started. There are six months left already. I’m in a good way, so I keep working. I do my best, and we will see [what happens] with my ranking.
It wasn’t that long ago that you were ranked outside the top 40. What changed?
Something has changed in my mind and in my game, something in my mind for sure. I feel more relaxed, and I believe also in myself. I think those two things, especially my mind, have changed a lot.
Flavia [Pennetta] says you are an introvert. Based on what we see on the court, that’s hard to believe.
It’s true. She knows me very well (smiling). Inside of the court, sometimes you see me lose my mind. Outside, when I’m with friends and I’m really relaxed, I’m really lazy most of the time. Double personality (laughs).
There have been times when your behavior on the court has been confusing for fans, whether it was your match last year at the U.S. Open where it looked like you were giving less than 100 percent, or in Cincinnati where it appeared you double faulted intentionally. How do you explain those things?
I’m not happy about how I was playing, for sure. Sometimes I’m playing in a bad situation, and I lose my temper on court. It’s wrong. But if you know me, I have two personalities. I’m still working on the wrong one, and it’s a lot of work to do it. I’m not shy. I’m not scared to tell you (smiling). 


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