Fabio Fognini edged out Andy Murray in a battle of veteran tennis dads to reach the Italian Open second round on Wednesday.
Fognini, ranked outside of the top 100 for the first time in 14 years, came through 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 against his fellow 35-year-old.
Former number seven Fognini delighted his home crowd with a controlled final set serving display in which he conceded just three points.
It was his fifth win in nine career meetings with Murray but just his third on the tour in 2023.
The Italian maverick, like Murray a father of three, fired 46 winners past the former world number one and three-time major winner in a first-round tie which stretched to almost three hours.
“For sure I’m happy because coming back from injury is never easy, especially at our age. But winning here in Rome against a really big player like Andy,” said Fognini, who has been troubled by a foot injury.
“Now it’s important to recover. It’s going to be tricky and a nice question to my mind if I will recover well. But I just want to enjoy this night and going home with this victory.”
Next up for Fognini is a clash with Miomir Kecmanovic while 42nd-ranked Murray, the 2016 champion in Rome, licks his wounds after celebrating his first title since 2019 at the Aix-en-Provence Challenger on Sunday.
Novak Djokovic will begin his bid to retain the Italian Open title against Tomas Etcheverry after the 61st-ranked Argentine beat Luca Van Assche of France in the first round 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.
Djokovic comes into the tournament he has won six times recovering from an elbow injury and set to lose top spot in the world rankings to Carlos Alcaraz.
Alcaraz just needs to play a match in the Italian capital to return to the world number one ranking ahead of the French Open which starts later this month.
Djokovic won his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January.
However, he missed the American hard-court swing in March due to his refusal to be vaccinated.
The 35-year-old has endured a tough start to the European clay-court season, being eliminated in the last 16 at the Monte Carlo Masters, in the quarter-finals at Banja Luka and then pulling out of Madrid.
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