© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Fabio Fognini battles past Filip Krajinovic in straight sets to reach the Monte-Carlo quarter-finals for the third time.

That Way To The Quarters! Defending Champ Fognini Advances

The Italian will play Ruud for a spot in the last four

It’s not often that Fabio Fognini flies under the radar. But the defending champion has done just that, quietly advancing to the quarter-finals of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Thursday.

The 15th seed battled past Serbian Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 7-6(1) after one hour and 28 minutes to reach the last eight at the venue where he won his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title two years ago. This is his third trip to the quarter-finals of this tournament.

“Of course I had my best performance here of my career. This tournament is always in my head,” Fognini said earlier in the week. “For sure it’s really special because I was born here, I was born in San Remo. I was practising here since I was 14 years old and I have a lot of memories here.”

Krajinovic led their ATP Head2Head series 2-0, and the Serbian did not lose more than six games in either of his victories. But Fognini, who arrived in Monaco on a three-match losing streak, was locked in against the World No. 37.

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Fognini was two points away from losing the second set at 2-5, 30/30, but the 33-year-old remained calm and controlled play to close out the match in straight sets. The Italian won seven consecutive points in the tie-break, pointing his right index finger to his team in celebration after the Serbian made an error on match point.

The defending champion will next play Casper Ruud, who rallied past Marbella champion Pablo Carreno Busta in the last match of the day. The Norwegian leads Fognini 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, with both of those triumphs coming last year.

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