Fognini Fights Back In Los Cabos Opener
Fabio Fognini has never successfully defended an ATP Tour title, but he moved closer to doing just that at the Abierto de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex in Los Cabos. The top seed shook off a slow start on Wednesday to win his opening match over Spaniard Marcel Granollers 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Fognini dropped the first four games against Granollers before he began to dial in from the baseline. The top seed broke twice in each of the last two sets to advance in two hours and nine minutes. Fognini, who improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Granollers to 4-4, currently sits at a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 9.
Awaiting the Italian in the quarter-finals is fifth-seeded American Taylor Fritz, who continued his top form by rallying to defeat Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Fritz finished runner-up last week at the BB&T Atlanta Open (l. to de Minaur) and has won 11 of his past 13 matches. The 21-year-old, who clinched his maiden ATP Tour title this June at the Nature Valley International (d. Querrey), is at a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 28.
Third seed Diego Schwartzman made his Los Cabos debut a memorable one as he raced through the last nine games of his match with Latvian Ernests Gulbis to reach the quarter-finals 7-5, 6-0. Schwartzman dropped just 10 points in the second set.
Next up for him is eighth-seeded Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin, who defeated Cameron Norrie 7-5, 7-5. The Brit served for both sets at 5-4, but Kukushkin fought back to advance in one hour and 35 minutes. The 31-year-old is enjoying a career-best season that includes a runner-up finish in Marseille (l. to Tsitsipas) and advancing to the second week at Wimbledon. Kukushkin and Schwartzman are even in their FedEx ATP Head2Head at 1-1, but haven't played in two years.
Second-seed Guido Pella opened his Los Cabos campaign in style by moving past Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2 for his eighth ATP Tour quarter-final of the year. Pella went on a six-game run to lead 5-0 in the second set before closing out the match in 71 minutes. The 29-year-old Argentine won his maiden ATP Tour crown this March in Sao Paulo (d. Garin) and reached a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 21 in May.
Awaiting Pella is South Korean qualifier Soonwoo Kwon, who took out Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 for his first ATP Tour quarter-final. The 21-year-old has primarily competed on the ATP Challenger Tour and picked up two titles this season. Kwon, currently No. 112 in the ATP Rankings, will become the third South Korean to crack the Top 100 if he can reach the semi-finals this week.
Seventh-seeded Moldovan Radu Albot scored seven breaks of serve in dispatching Japanese Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-2. He'll take on Australian wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis, who continued his love affair with Los Cabos by upsetting fourth-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Injuries have limited Kokkinakis to five events this season, but both of his career ATP Tour quarter-finals have come at this event. The Aussie finished runner-up here in 2017 (l. to Querrey).