Monte Carlo semifinal previews: Nadal v. Fognini; Medvedev v. Lajovic

Monte Carlo semifinal previews: Nadal v. Fognini; Medvedev v. Lajovic

Fognini has beaten Nadal on clay twice, putting him in rarified air vs the Spaniard.

Rafael Nadal (ATP No. 2, UTR No. 2) vs. Fabio Fognini (ATP No. 18, UTR No. 106)

Fognini is playing with some serious swagger this week. The fan favorite in Monte Carlo has used the pro-Italian crowd to his benefit, particularly during his comeback win over Borna Coric in the quarterfinals.

He will need every last drop of swagger if he is to stand a chance against Nadal. Keep in mind, though, that Fognini boasts three career victories over the Spaniard, including two on clay. Both victories came in 2015, in Rio and Barcelona, respectively. These two wins put him in rarified air when it comes to success against the world’s greatest clay court player. 

On the right day, Fognini can get into a zone, slapping winners from everywhere on the court, off both wings. He has the talent and racquet skills to handle the overwhelming power and spin of Nadal. He can step up into the court and rip his backhand on the rise, which neutralizes the Nadal forehand since he often won’t allow it to bounce up above his strike zone. 

All in all, Fognini matches up fairly well with Nadal. But this is Monte Carlo, Nadal’s tournament. He has won here eleven times, and has not lost a set here since 2017. Unless Fognini plays the match of his life, I do not envision him getting a third win over Nadal on clay.

Daniil Medvedev (ATP No. 14, UTR  No. 5) vs. Dusan Lajovic (ATP No. 48, UTR No. 118)

Of all the players in the Monte Carlo field this week, Lajovic has been the most impressive. Anyone who beats David Goffin and Dominic Thiem in straight sets on red clay should have your full attention. 

Entering the week, Medvedev ’s record on clay for his career was a dismal 2-11. A few days later, he now owns two Top 10 victories on clay, including the biggest win of his career, over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

Given these players' recent form, I think this match is a toss-up, but according to their ATP ranking as well as their clay court specific UTR, Medvedev is the heavy favorite. It's uncommon to play someone ranked No. 48 in the world in the semifinals of a Masters 1000; look for Medvedev to capitalize on his favorable draw and blast his way into his first Masters final.