Italy’s Fabio Fognini reacts during his second round match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, at the Mexican Open tennis tournament in Acapulco, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
- Fabio Fognini, the 2019 champion, hasn’t lost a set in Monte Carlo going into the quarterfinals
- Casper Ruud survived a two-hour, 52-minute marathon against Pablo Carreño-Busta Thursday
- A 2-0 head-to-head helps Ruud rate as the favorite going in; we break down Fognini’s chances for the upset
Fabio Fognini is the de facto defending champion in Monte Carlo. He won in 2019, and the tournament wasn’t held in 2020 because of the pandemic.
He hasn’t lost a set coming into his quarterfinal against Norway’s Casper Ruud on Friday, April 16, not before 8:00 am EDT.
Casper Ruud vs Fabio Fognini Odds
|Player||Spread||Moneyline||Total at DraftKings|
|Casper Ruud (NOR)||-1.5 (-106)||-129||O 22.5 (+102)|
| Fabio Fognini (ITA)||+1.5 (-120)||+104||U 22.5 (-129)|
Odds as of April 15
Defending Monte Carlo Champ Fognini a Long Shot
Ruud was a fairly distant long shot coming into the tournament, at +5000.
Fognini was even further in the rear-view mirror, at +10000 despite his illustrious recent history.
Winning in 2019, especially after he shocked 11-time champion, Rafael Nadal, in the semifinals in straight sets, was the biggest moment of the Italian’s career.
Eight of Fognini’s nine ATP Tour titles have come on the red clay. So it is a surface that has been very good to him.
But clay also is Casper Ruud’s best surface.
So something has to give.
Casper Ruud vs Fabio Fognini Previous Matches
|2020||Hamburg (Clay – R16)||6-3, 6-3||Ruud|
|2020||ATP Cup (Hard)||6-2, 6-2||Ruud|
The 2-0 edge Ruud holds in their head-to-head might explain why the young Norwegian is the slight favorite in this quarterfinal.
But to put those two 2020 losses in context, Fognini had a terrible season.
He reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, winning five-setters in the first two rounds. But he lost in the first round of the other three regulation-format tournaments he played before the ATP Tour shut down.
And then, he had arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in May, during the pandemic stoppage.
Fognini returned to play only the abbreviated clay-court season in September – again falling in the first round in three out of the four events he played.
Breakthrough in 2020, Struggle in 2021
Meanwhile, Ruud had his breakthrough season in 2020. And most of his success came on the clay.
He won his first (and only) career title in Buenos Aires on the South American swing in February and followed it up by reaching the Santiago final.
After the restart, he was a semifinalist at the Masters 1000 in Rome and also in Hamburg, where he beat Fognini in the second round.
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But Ruud’s 2021 has been a physical struggle until this week.
He gave Andrey Rublev a walkover in the fourth round of the Australian Open because of an abdominal injury. A month later in the Acapulco quarterfinals he similarly gifted eventual champion Alexander Zverev with a free pass, this time because of a wrist injury.
The highest-ranked player Ruud had beaten coming into Monte Carlo was Jordan Thompson of Australia, at No. 49.
Casper Ruud vs Fabio Fognini Head-to-Head
|22 (Dec. 22, 1998)||Age||33 (May 24, 1987)|
|Oslo, Norway||Birthplace||Sanremo, Italy|
|1||Career ATP Singles Titles||9|
|No. 24 (Feb. 22, 2021)||Career High Ranking||No. 9 (July 5, 2019)|
|No. 27||Current Ranking||No. 18|
|$2,751,917||Career Prize Money||$15, 527,416|
|9-3||2021 Won/Loss record||10-7|
Ruud Drops Two Seeds en Route to Semis
This week in Monte Carlo, Ruud has been impressive.
First, he upset No. 7 seed Diego Schwartzman, who has made a racquet change and hasn’t yet found his groove.
Then, he outlasted No. 12 seed Pablo Carreño Busta 7-6 (4), 5-7, 7-5 in the third round on Thursday, in two hours and 52 minutes.
Ruud was down 2-5 in the third set before he came back.
Take a bow, Casper 👏
From 5-2 down in the decider, @CasperRuud98 saves 2 match points and defeats Carreno Busta 7-6 5-7 7-5 to reach a 2nd Masters 1000 quarter-final!#RolexMCMasters pic.twitter.com/8yEm15JUt5
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 15, 2021
Fognini, who moved through the section left vacant by No. 2 seed Daniel Medvedev’s positive COVID-19 test earlier in the week, hasn’t lost a set in three matches. He will be considerably fresher going into Friday despite giving up nearly a dozen years to his Norwegian opponent.
Ruud wins more with his legs than his virtuosity. And those legs won’t be the freshest. To say the very least.
The experience of having won the event will help Fognini get through this one. So will his ability to break points open by hitting winners and making his opponent do the running on a day his legs might not be as cooperative as he’d like them to be.
Best Bet: Fognini in three sets (+390)
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Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.