Even with five match points faced, nearly a dozen foot faults, thousands of fans booing him for gamesmanship and one cramping leg that rendered him almost completely immobile, Fabio Fognini still managed to pull off a victory in his fourth-round match against Albert Montanes, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 11-9.
The Italian could barely move in the final few games of the extended match, causing a bizarre scene in which he stood as still as the Eiffel Tower during points but wasn't penalized for this by his opponent, who continued to hit the ball directly at him for some reason. Witness what happened on match point. Despite the fact that Fognini was practically growing roots in the center of the court, Montanes didn't run him at all. It was the same failed strategy that caused the Spaniard to blow five match points. Granted, some of that was due to the deft shotmaking by Fognini, but that was only possible because Montanes failed to put shots away.
The victory came after a strange fifth set that saw Fognini take an illegal, five-minute cramping break when he was two points away from defeat and then get called for an astonishing number of foot faults that made it seem like he was completely indifferent to the proceedings:
Somehow, Fognini continued. With his back against the wall, his leg cramping and the Parisian crowd turning on him for the gamesmanship, Fognini hit some beautiful winners and drop shots to dispatch the tentative Montanes.
His reward? Likely Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinal. Better hope that leg heals soon.
- Fabio Fognini