Fognini stuns Nadal to reach Monte Carlo final

Reuters

Fabio Fognini pulled off a stunner on Saturday, ousting 11-time champ and No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters at Monaco.

The 13th-seeded Italian reached the first Masters 1000 level final of his career with the victory.

Nadal hadn't lost in 18 matches in the event.

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"I probably played one of the worst matches on clay in 14 years," said Nadal. "When that happens, you have to lose. And today I deserved to lose because I played against a player that was better than me today."

Fognini actually fell behind 1-3 before winning 11 of the final 14 games to continue his dream week in Monaco. The world No. 18 also beat third seed Alexander Zverev and ninth seed Borna Coric on his way to the final, despite coming in on a five-match losing streak on clay and nearly losing in the opening round.

"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 incredible sport. So I was lucky. Now I'm in the final. And of course I go for the title tomorrow."

Fognini will face Serbian Dusan Lajovic in Sunday's final.

Lajovic, 28, is in his first tour-level final of any kind after rallying to beat No. 10 seed Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-1 in the other semifinal. The Serbian took 12 of the final 13 games to advance.

"I had the worst nightmare, falling down 5-1," Lajovic said afterward. "But I won 10 games in a row, so I was able to find my rhythm and my game. In windy conditions like today, it was impossible to play real tennis and in the end I was able to hit my forehands better than him."

Medvedev, coming off a Friday victory over top-seeded Novak Djokovic, lamented his missed opportunity.

"I think he started playing better and better gradually, and when we were at 5-3 and 5-4, he didn't miss a point," Medvedev said.

"I think that was what happened. If I look back in hindsight, then when I was up 5-1 or 5-2, I could have taken advantage of some chances and finished it up then. Then we never know how the match could have ended. So I have nothing to say, because this is not what happened and I have to congratulate him."

Lajovic, ranked No. 48 in the world, hasn't lost a single set this week and upset World No. 5 Dominic Thiem on his way to the final.

--Field Level Media

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