Fognini Finds Winning Formula In Buenos Aires
The Italian advanced to the final at the ATP 250 event in 2014 and set the wheels in motion for another deep run this week against the Spaniard.
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The fourth seed struck the ball with great depth as he outmaneuvered Martinez with his heavy topspin groundstrokes to advance after two hours and five minutes.
In a hard-fought match, Fognini rallied from a break down in the first set and recovered from squandering a match point on Martinez's serve at 4-5, 30/40 in the second set to eventually triumph in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
The last time Fognini reached the quarter-finals at a tour-level event was also on clay at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters 10 months ago.
In Thursday's Buenos Aires nightcap, second seed Diego Schwartzman needed seven match points to close out a 7-6(2), 7-6(4) win over Spain's Jaume Munar. In a dramatic second set, the Argentine recovered an early break and then had a pair of match points on the return at 4-5. After a battling hold, Munar managed to secure a break and set up an opportunity to serve out the set.
From 6-5, 15/0, Schwartzman raised his game and won 10 straight points to all but end the match. Finding form on his backhand, Schwartzman forced a tie-break and then built a 6-0 lead. Munar had one last surge left to close to 4-6, but a forehand return winner finished the match after two hours, 23 minutes.
"I'm very happy because it was tough at the end," Schwartzman reflected. "He was saving too many match points, winning too many good points at the end of the match and he had the chance to go into the third. I think the tie-break, in the beginning I played better than him. But at the end he was fighting and he was there."
The victory sets up a rematch of last year's all-Argentine Buenos Aires final against Francisco Cerundolo, who beat Miomir Kecmanovic, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 earlier in the day. In the pair's lone ATP Head2Head meeting, Schwartzman defeated the 23-year-old, 6-1, 6-2.
"It's going to be a different match," Schwartzman previewed. "He has already one year [of experience] playing in the ATP Tour and winning Challengers. It's going to be a different match, but we are going to enjoy with a full stadium tomorrow."