Thursday’s schedule at the Vegeta Croatia Open Umag will feature Top seed and Italian No. 1 Fabio Fognini and Spain’s Albert Montanes, as they compete for a spot in the quarter-final stage of the tournament. This marks the fifth time these two competitors will meet on the ATP World Tour, with Montanes leading the head-to-head series 3-2. Their last meeting took place over three years ago at the French Open and much has changed for both players since then.
World No. 20 Fabio Fognini crashed out of the Hamburg Open, where he was the defending champion, in his opening match at the tournament. The Italian lost to Filip Krajinovic, who was ranked over 129 spots below him in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He also managed to get himself in a spot of bother following a tasteless ethnic slur against his Serbian adversary.
Prior to that loss, Fognini failed to defend his Stuttgart title, as he lost in the semi-final round to Roberto Bautista Agut. The Italian has not won a title on the tour since Vine Del Mar in February and is now at a modest 32-15 record so far this season. He is defending runner-up points in Umag this week and will be hard-pressed to reach the later stages of the tournament if he is to remain in the Top 20.
World No. 113 Albert Montanes began his week in Umag with a victory over 17-year-old Alexander Zverev, whom had risen to fame last week when he reached the semi-final stage in Hamburg as a wildcard. Montanes, 34, defeated Zverev 6-4, 6-4 , withstanding 7 aces and 2 break points to close out the contest in 1 hour and 25 minutes.
This marks the sixth time these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour, with Montanes leading the head-to-head series 3-2. All their contests took place on clay, yet their most recent one was at the 2011 French Open. Fognini has since risen to become a Top 20 competitor and more than capable of withstanding his older opponent’s attacks. If Fognini plays to the best of his abilities, he should find his way into the quarter-final stage of the tournament.
Prediction: Fabio Fognini in Three Sets