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By Chris Oddo | Tuesday May 16, 2017

Andy Murray was boxed out of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia draw by an Italian on a mission. Fabio Fognini rolled past the struggling Scotsman, 6-2, 6-4.

Tribute: Ferrer an Insatiable, Inspiring Competitor for the Ages

Those just seeing the score will likely be quick to pin this loss on Murray, who has struggled mightily to find his game in a last-ditch attempt to get ready and fit to defend runner-up points at Roland Garros later this month.

But in reality there wasn’t all that much he could do to stop Fognini on Tuesday evening in Rome. The Italian has a big-match flair, and on the clay he’s an extremely tough customer. Fognini proved that much in April of 2014 when he defeated Murray in straight sets at a Davis Cup tie in Naples, and on Tuesday he proved it again with an inspired display of shotmaking.

The Italian struck 23 forehand winners to just four unforced errors and won 22 of 35 points against the Murray second serve. He would break four times on eight opportunities and race out to a 6-2, 5-1 lead before Murray reeled him in a bit to make things close in the second set.

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

Murray didn’t drop a set en route to the Rome title last season, and he now becomes the first defending champion to drop his first match at the Foro Italico since 2008. He is 21-7 lifetime when playing as the No.1 ATP player.

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

Fognini will move on to face Serbia’s Viktor Troicki or Alexander Zverev in the third round.

Djokovic Successful in Opener

Novak Djokovic got off to a solid start by defeating Great Britain’s Aljaz Bedene, 7-6(2), 6-2, to set up a third-round encounter with either Pablo Carreno Busta or Roberto Bautista Agut. Djokovic was broken in the first game but he recovered quickly and by the end of the match seemed to be in pretty good form.




“Bedene is the kind of player that gives you good rhythm,” the four-time Rome champion said. “I had some good exchanges, some good games with rallies and it felt right, especially in the second set.”

 

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