Fabio Fognini fought back from a set and a break down to beat Borna Coric in the quarterfinals of the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters, setting up a blockbuster semifinal clash against Rafael Nadal.
Fognini rallied from 6-4, 4-1 down to win his first round match against Andrey Rublev earlier in the week, and there was a little bit of deja vu in his quarterfinal match against Coric on Friday night, as the No. 9-seeded Croat was in total control for the first hour of the match, building a 6-1, 2-0 lead.
The situation could have gotten even worse for Fognini—he was actually two points away from going down a set and a double break against Coric, falling behind 15-30 serving at 0-2 in the second set.
But the No. 13-seeded Italian found his best form just when he needed it most, ripping an inside-out forehand winner up the line to get back to 30-all—avoiding what would have been double break point for the double break—and winning 12 of the last 15 games of the match for a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.
He clinched the win on his third match point with a big serve out wide that Coric returned wide.
Fognini came into this week having lost seven of his last eight matches on the tour, but he’s now through to the third Masters 1000 semifinal of his career, his first two coming here in Monte Carlo in 2013, falling to Novak Djokovic and on hard courts at Miami in 2017, falling to Nadal.
“I think I was a little bit lucky today,” Fognini told ATPTour.com after the match. “I’m happy because I’m playing my second semifinal here, happy because of course I’ve tried to do my best all week.
“And now it’s time to play with a really good player.”
Up next for Fognini is another clash with Nadal, and the Italian has actually gotten the better of the Spaniard three times before, all in 2015: twice on clay, at Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona, and once on hard courts, a dramatic three-hour-and-47-minute 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory at the US Open.
Nadal leads their overall head-to-head, 11-3, though it’s a slightly closer 6-2 on clay —and Nadal needed three sets to get past Fognini in their last two clay-court meetings, a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 victory on home soil in Madrid in 2017 and a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory on Fognini’s home turf in Rome last year.
“Everywhere it’s difficult with him,” Fognini said of Nadal. “I’ll just try to enjoy this match, try to recover as best I can, eat well, sleep well, play with my son Federico a little bit before I sleep and tomorrow is another day. I’ll try to do my best game - I know it’s difficult, but I have the game to play against him.”