Fognini explains why he prefers facing Nadal over Djokovic and Federer

Fognini explains why he prefers facing Nadal over Djokovic and Federer

The Italian, who admits laziness has held him back from achieving more on court, believes the Spaniard gives more space to play and run than his fellow Big 3 members.

At 32, world No. 11 Fabio Fognini is a tour veteran and has played the Big 3—Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer—a lot of times during his career.

While he's never defeated Federer or Djokovic, Fognini's record against Nadal is slightly better. He's 4-12 against the 19-time major champion, with includes a win from two sets down at the US Open. 

"When Roger and Novak are at their top [level], it is very difficult. They play so fast, give you no space," Fognini told NRC in a translated interview. "With Rafa it is different. His game is more physical, he destroys you in the rally and mentally. But you can play against him, you can run."

Getty Images

Together, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have won 56 Grand Slams. Fognini won his first ATP Masters 1000 title last year in Monte Carlo, and has nine ATP trophies overall. But the fluid yet temperamental Italian says he could have won more during his career.

"I am sometimes lazy, that did not help me. If I wasn't lazy, I would certainly have achieved more at tournaments," Fognini said. "Sometimes I would rather sit on the couch than train or prepare for a tournament. Simply lazy."

But his approach has changed now that he's the father of two with his wife, former Grand Slam champion Flavia Pennetta. He doesn't beat himself up for day following defeats.

"If I win, I win for them also. If not, I think of them," he said.

Fognini reached a career-high No.9 in the rankings in 2019, the oldest player to break into the Top 10 for the first time.

He began working with former world No. 7 Corrado Barazzutti prior to beginning his 2020 season and reached the fourth round at the Australian Open.