Delbonis Drives Past Fognini at Argentina Open
Delbonis broke World No. 40 Fognini in the opening games of both sets to ensure the Italian could never find a foothold in the match, staying solid on serve to secure victory in one hour, 36 minutes.
The Argentine had also won the pair's previous meeting in straight sets at Roland Garros. With his victory, Delbonis has reduced his ATP Head2Head deficit against Fognini to 4-5.
The break in the opening game of the match was the only one in the first set, with World No. 42 Delbonis staying solid on serve thereafter and taking his first set point with a booming ace.
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Fognini showed more resilience in the second set, breaking back to level at 3-3, but he immediately surrendered his serve again to hand Delbonis the advantage he needed to go on to victory. Delbonis particularly raised his game at important moments, converting three out of four break points and was also solid on serve, winning 79 per cent (37/47) of points behind his first delivery.
Delbonis, seeking his third ATP Tour title after winning in Sao Paulo in 2014 and Marrakech in 2016, will next face top seed Casper Ruud in the semi-finals.
The Norwegian overcame the windy conditions and Argentine Federico Coria 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 33 minutes to book his place in his first tour-level semi-final of the season.
“It was very difficult with the weather,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “It was not typical weather for Buenos Aires but more like Norwegian weather. On days like this, it is not easy to find your perfect game, so you have to play point by point, building the points. I think I was able to do that well and I am very happy to come through.”
Ruud has fond memories in Buenos Aires, having lifted the trophy at the ATP 250 event on his debut in 2020. In a dominant performance, the World No. 8 moved well throughout against Coria to improve to 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. Ruud won their only other meeting in the final in Gstaad last July.
The 23-year-old is aiming to capture his seventh tour-level crown this week, after enjoying a standout 2021 season, when he triumphed five times on the ATP Tour. With his victory, Ruud is now 7-0 at the clay-court tournament in Buenos Aires.
In the draw's bottom half, third seed Lorenzo Sonego booked his semi-final spot with a 6-4, 7-6(4) win over Spain's Fernando Verdasco. The 26-year-old Italian, who is one spot off his career-high ATP Ranking at World No. 22, is seeking a second ATP Tour clay-court title after his triumph in Cagliari last season.
Both men saved four break points in the opening set, with Verdasco saving all four in the set's sixth game. But the former World No. 7, who entered the Buenos Aires event with a protected ranking, could not save a fifth as he dropped serve to concede the opening set. Sonego looked on course for a routine win as he built a 4-0 lead in the second, but Verdasco clawed back, denying the Italian's attempt to serve out the match at 5-3 and ultimately forcing a tie-break.
After closing out the two-hour, four-minute victory, Sonego now faces defending champion Diego Schwartzman in the semi-finals after the World No. 15 came out on top in an engrossing battle with his fellow Argentine Francisco Cerundolo.
The match was suspended at 1-1 in the third set late on Friday night due to rain, and upon resumption on Saturday afternoon a boisterous home crowd enjoyed a tumultuous final set that featured seven breaks of serve.
Second seed Schwartzman ultimately kept his nerve to complete a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win in two hours, 52 minutes, but qualifier Cerundolo came agonisingly close to avenging his defeat to Schwartzman in the final in Buenos Aires last year.
After Schwartzman had appeared to take control by taking the first two games after the resumption, Cerundolo immediately reclaimed the break and won another crucial game on the Schwartzman serve for 5-4.
He could not serve out for victory, however, and Schwartzman upped his level to seal his win in a match in which he created 19 break point opportunities, converting seven of them.