Fabio Fognini played with great energy and passion on Tuesday at the start of his Roland Garros campaign, when the Grand Slam championship's newest show court, Court Simonne-Mathieu (named after a two-time women’s champion), turned green, white and red in support of an all-Italian encounter.
The ninth seed beat his countryman, Andreas Seppi, for the sixth successive occasion in their nine-match FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, 6-3, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 21 minutes. It was his 50th match win at a major championship (50-43).
“[I’m] happy because I think I played great tennis, especially the first set, [which] was really tough,” said Fognini. “And then in the second, the level was really high, and I think Seppi was not able to do more than that. And then in the third [set] he started to play really good again. It’s always tough, because he’s a really good friend of mine. It's always difficult, especially mentally, to play against Italian friend.”
Having captured the biggest title of his career at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters last month, Fognini will be hoping to better his best performance at a Grand Slam, which came in 2011 when he advanced to the Roland Garros quarter-finals (w/o versus Djokovic).
Fognini won seven straight games from 5-3 in the first set, to the start of the third set, when Seppi won 14 of the first 19 points, before regaining the momentum in the penultimate game of the match, with Fognini’s sixth service break.
The 32-year-old, who hit 36 winners and committed 49 unforced errors — 12 more than Seppi — will now challenge Argentine Federico Delbonis, who converted five of his 17 break point opportunities in a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Spanish qualifier Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who has competed in the main draw every year since 2004.
Elsewhere, Kyle Edmund, the No. 28 seed from Great Britain, returned to Court 1 for two games to complete his first-round win over France’s Jeremy Chardy. Edmund withstood 73 winners, including 30 aces, in a 7-6(1), 5-7, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory over four hours and two minutes to set up a clash against Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. Edmund and Chardy’s match was suspended at 9:22 p.m. local time on Monday.
“To come through that was great for me,” said Edmund. “I’m very happy with it. [It was a] great fight, good character, good composure, especially in an environment like that. It was lots of positives for me. That was great to take forward.”
American Taylor Fritz cruised past Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 and now faces Spanish No. 18 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, the Qatar ExxonMobil Open titlist (d. Berdych) in the first week of 2019, who was solid on serve (37/46 first-serve points won) and at the net (18 of 21 points won) in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Steve Johnson of the United States.
When asked about Bautista Agut, who Fritz beat 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4 at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon, the American admitted, “I'm going to have to play very well. I played very good, I thought, [last week] in Lyon and just barely got it done. So I know what I have to do… I feel confident that if I do what I need to do, I can win again and go to the next round.”