In the first of the two semi final matches in the St Petersburg Open being played on Saturday, Fabio Fognini took on Daniel Gimeno-Traver, hoping for a place in the final to be played on Sunday.
Now with a ranking of 53 – highest having been 32 in June of last year – the stylish and very relaxed Italian played a masterful mixture of powerful ground strokes off each wing and delicate net points to take a 5-2 lead in the first set. The Spaniard held to love for 3-5, but Fognini was not to be denied and sealed the first set at his first attempt, six games to three.
Gimeno-Traver started the second set well, taking the opening game to love, only to see Fognini do the same in his first game and each player then held serve until 3-3. It was once again Fognini who managed the first break, in the seventh game, to lead 4-3; and then held his own service game to go further ahead 5-3. Gimeno-Traver was however not going to give up easily and held his service game to love, to trail 4-5 and make Fognini serve for the match. After what he thought was the game winning shot, Gimeno-Traver challenged and hawk eye showed that the ball was in, by only the tiniest sliver, but Fognini went back to his baseline to serve again for game, set and match and this time Gimeno-Traver sent his return long to hand victory to the Italian in an hour and twenty minutes – 6-3 6-4
This singles final will be Fognini’s second in his career – he lost to Gilles Simon on clay in Bucharest earlier this year – so he will be very determined to win his first singles ATP trophy.