Italian hothead Fabio Fognini believes he has competed with the ‘best in history’ through his career, but admits that the generation of players that won’t have to face the Big 3 (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) is ‘very lucky’.
“Young boys will be very lucky to one day play without these three, that I have had all the way,” Fognini said during an interview with Spanish publication AS.
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“When I reached the second week of a Grand Slam I was already happy, as if it were a semifinal or a final, because from then on it was your turn to play one of them, or (Andy) Murray, (Juan Martin) Del Potro, (Stan) Wawrinka.”
“The good thing (about playing in the age of the Big 3) has been to compete against them and live with the best in history. The bad, that to do something good, incredible things had to happen.”
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Even though Fognini has a losing record (4-13) against Nadal, he was the first person to beat the Spaniard at a major after losing the first two sets. The Italian defeated Nadal 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the 2015 US Open.
That happens to be his only win over any member of the Big 3 at a Grand Slam event. In fact, Fognini has never beaten Federer (0-4 career record) or Djokovic (0-8).
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The 33-year-old, who reached a career high of No 9, though is proud of what he has achieved in the sport despite some daunting opposition. He has won nine career titles.
“When I retire I will be happy to say that I have been Fabio Fognini outside and, above all, on the track,” said the world No 18, known for his temper tantrums on the tennis court.
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“Each one has its character and reacts differently. I have paid what I did wrong, but I will not regret anything.”
The 2019 Monte Carlo Masters champion got off to a strong start at the tournament this time around, beating Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 7-5 in the first round on Tuesday. Like most of his peers, Fognini has also only grudgingly come to accept the bubble life on tour.
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“It seems very hard to me, I don’t like it,” he said.
“On the one hand, we are lucky to play, although we did not win money with the reduction of the prizes due to the absence of public.
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“In bubbles we are locked in, with many rules. Let’s see if the doors open a little more and we, the players, are more alive so as not to complicate our lives.”