Italy’s Fabio Fognini thrilled a crowd composed mainly of his countrymen as he defeated Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 to win the Monte Carlo Masters on Sunday.
The 13th seed based just 20 kilometres over the border in San Remo, became the first from Italy to lift a trophy here in 51 years, following on from Nicola Pietrangeli, who watched his record fall from the royal box at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
Pietrangeli won the trophy in the principality in 1961, 1967 and 1968.
He came to the court after the trophy ceremony to pose for pictures with his new tennis heir, who was following up his shock semi-final win over 11-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal.
“I was born nearby so this is extraordinary,” Fognini, 31, said after becoing the first Italian to win a Masters 1000 singles title.
“I started the season rather badly, so this is unbelievable. I’m very content with this victory, especially with all of the Italians here today.”
The 48th-ranked Serb Lajovic was playing in the first ATP final of his career and got to the title match without the loss of a set.
Fognini looked to be temporarily hampered as he limped momentarily after breaking Lajovic for 3-2 in the second after claiming the opening set in 44 minutes.
During a medical timeout, he was taped on his right thigh and a heel, but carried on without apparent problems as he finished the final on his second match point as Lajovic returned long.
The winner of his first Masters 1000 trophy came to the first major week of the pre-Roland Garros run-up with a 0-4 record on the clay, the surface he grew up on.
Among his victims this week was number three Alexander Zverev, and his stunning stunning 6-4, 6-2 victory over Nadal on Saturday to end the Spanish star’s 25-set win streak in the principality.