Fognini Blasts Past Defending Champion Murray In Rome

Italian hits 31 winners in dominating performance

Fabio Fognini will remember this one.

In front of a packed Campo Centrale, the Italian No. 1 played one of the best matches of his career, blasting 23 forehand winners to upset World No. 1 and defending champion Andy Murray 6-2, 6-4 on Tuesday during Murray's Internazionali BNL d'Italia opener in Rome.

Fognini becomes the first Italian to beat a World No. 1 since Filippo Volandri in 2007. Volandri defeated Roger Federer 6-2, 6-4 in the third round, also in Rome. Since then Italians had lost 22 in a row vs. World No. 1s.

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Murray, who didn't drop a set in Rome last year, becomes the first defending champion to lose in his opener in almost 10 years, since 2008, when Rafael Nadal fell to Juan Carlos Ferrero in his first match.

Past history mattered little on Tuesday evening, when Fognini hit Murray, a 14-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion, off the court. The 29-year-old Italian jumped on the Scot from the start, breaking twice to lead 4-0. He held to love to take the opener in 40 minutes.

The onslaught continued in the second set, as the Italians grew comfortable and stayed boisterous at Foro Italico. Murray slapped a backhand long to give Fognini a set and a break lead at 2-1. Two games later, on Murray's serve, Fognini played as if he could do no wrong with his forehand, wielding the shot for a winner at 15/15 and 15/30.

At 30/40, Fognini, who finished with 31 overall winners, ripped another forehand that Murray couldn't handle at the net, and the Italian had a double-break lead in the second set.

“He was taking the ball early, hitting the ball close to the lines and dominating most of the points,” Murray said. “Normally during matches your opponent might give you a few opportunities with some errors, and obviously you hope to create a few yourself. That certainly wasn't the case today. The only chance I really got was when he was making errors.”

The second-round shocker is Fognini's 10th victory against a Top 10 opponent in 56 matches (10-46), a winning percentage of about 18 per cent. Fognini will face Serbian Viktor Troicki or #NextGenATP star Alexander Zverev in the third round.

Learn More In Fognini's FedEx ATP Win/Loss

Murray arrived in Rome looking to turn around his 2017. The Scot, who turned 30 on Monday, hasn't played in a tour-level final since February, when he won his 45th tour-level title in Dubai (d. Verdasco).

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