May. 28, 2017
Rome Masters: Defending Champion Andy Murray Out in Straight Sets to Fabio Fognini
Defending champion Andy Murray was sent packing in just the second round at the Italian Open, with a 6-2, 6-4 defeat to Italian Fabio Fognini.
Murray's disappointing 2017 continued with defeat to the World Number 29
The British and World Number One’s poor form this season continues, with just one title secured in 2017 thus far, compared to the nine accumulated throughout an exceptional 2016 campaign.
That victory was accrued at the Qatar Open way back in February, and, lifted on his more favoured hard court surface, will provide little of the much needed confidence required ahead of a fast-approaching second Grand Slam of the year.
A big favourite among the locals, Fognini claimed a comfortably victory – his first over Murray – in just over 90 minutes, closing out a 6-2 first set before holding serve to win the second 6-4.
Roland-Garros: Is there any hope for Murray?
With the French Open just over a week away, kicking off on Sunday 28 May, Murray’s poor build-up to the year’s second Grand Slam continued in Rome.
A finalist at the event in 2016, the Brit has traditionally struggled more in Paris than he has at any other Slam, with the Australian Open the only other in which he has failed to win.
And, as Murray continues to struggle on the clay, his fellow Roland-Garros favourites have been enjoying far more success.
Novak Djokovic, now competing on his own having split from his entire coaching staff at the start of the month, eased into the third round in Rome with a straight sets (7-6 (7-2), 6-2) victory over British number three Aljaz Bedene.
Meanwhile, a specialist on this most testing of surfaces, Rafael Nadal – who defeated Djokovic en route to a 5th Madrid Open title just last weekend - is looking to become the first man to win the same Grand Slam on ten occasions, having already made history by winning for a tenth time at the Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell in 2017.
Fortunately for those mentioned above, and perhaps for every player on the ATP Tour, 18-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer will not be present in Paris, after deciding to concentrate instead on the grass and hard-court seasons later in the year.
Murray’s struggles continue
Murray’s difficult start to 2017 was further compounded by an elbow injury that forced his withdrawal from the Miami Open back in March, and later denied him the opportunity to support the Great British team in their quarter-final defeat to France in the Davis Cup.
And, with the best part of five months of the season already played, the 30 year-old Brit has won just one event in 2017 thus far – on a hard-court in Dubai as far back as February.
Having never previously beaten the world number one, Fognini, in front of an adoring home crowd, dominated throughout.
Just a week before his 30th birthday, the Italian cruised to a 3-0 lead in the first, before serving out the set to love, conceding just two games in the process.
And the simplest of first set victories was followed by much of the same in the second, with the world number 29 dominating all over the court on his way to a 5-1 lead as the match entered its second hour.
Murray brought the set back to 4-5 with a quick-fire break and hold to keep his hopes of reaching the third round alive, but Fognini held his nerve to serve out the set and with it the match.
Italian Fabio Fognini claimed his first career victory over Andy Murray
With little tennis left to play before the French Open officially begins next weekend, Murray’s record of only making it past the fourth round in three of his eight tournaments in 2017 will need to come to an end, and fast, or else the Scot’s Parisian curse will undoubtedly continue.