Fognini ends Nadal’s bid for 12th Monte Carlo Masters title

The world No. 2 had won 21 straight sets at the tournament and was the favourite, as usual, to win.

Fognini nearly handed Nadal his first bagel since the 2018 US quarterfinals at 5-0 in the second set.   -  Reuters

Rafael Nadal, bidding for a record-extending 12th title at a single ATP tournament, was dumped out of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 by 13th seed Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday.

After the two exchanged five breaks of serve in a close first set, Fognini nearly handed Nadal his first bagel since the 2018 US quarterfinals at 5-0 in the second. But the world No. 2 broke back and held serve, before Fognini served out the match on his second attempt.

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Nadal owns 11 titles each at the French Open, Monte Carlo and the 500 Series Barcelona Open – next best is Roger Federer with nine each at Halle and Basel.

Nadal had not lost a set at Monte Carlo since dropping the second to Kyle Edmund of Great Britain in the Round of 16 in 2017 – a run of 21 straight sets.

Fognini, the world No. 18, will contest his first ATP Masters final. On Sunday he faces another surprise finalist, Dusan Lajovic, who won 12 of the last 13 games of his semifinal against 10th seed Daniil Medvedev.

Hold on Masters loosening?

Nadal was also bidding to go two more than Nadal Djokovic’s 32 Masters titles.But his loss on Saturday is the latest indication of the Big Four’s hold on the nine biggest tournaments of the year in the last two years.

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Between 2010 and 2016, Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Andy Murray won 56 of 63 Masters titles. In the 20 tournaments since then, they’ve won just 11. The other nine were shared by Sascha Zverev with three and six first-time winners.

To put that in perspective, the seven years between 2010 and 2016 saw just seven one-time winners outside the Big Four.