Last year, in October, Fabio Fognini and Andy Murray were locked in an intense three-hour battle during the Shanghai Masters. As tempers boiled over, the two were even involved in a verbal confrontation, and Murray was heard telling Fognini to ‘Shut Up!’ during the third set.
The Brit looked angry even as the players met at the net after of the match, which went 7-6(4), 2-6, 7-6(2) in favour of the Italian.
As it happens, their terse rivalry goes way back.
“Murray and I never got along,” Fognini has written in his recently-launched autobiography, Warning: My life among the lines.
“We are two hotheads and we lose our cool pretty quickly,” he continues about his relationship with Murray. “When we are on court, we despise each other…Andy Murray was arrogant since young age. A guy all lobs and dropshots, tricky shots designed to mock you.”
Not surprisingly, the two have been involved in some pretty gnarly contests. Of the eight matches played, they have won four each. Murray is the only member of the Big 4 that Fognini has a decent record against – he has never beaten either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.
This is what he had to say about the other three:
Rafael Nadal (Fognini has a career 4-12 record against the Spaniard)
Hard to describe how Rafa plays but if I had to use just one word I would say ‘Savage’. A volcano energy explosion guided by discipline and method. Nadal plays every point in training as they were Grand Slam championship points. Tennis for him is a very serious business.
Novak Djokovic is tough. When you face him he crushes you. His rhythm is so strong that you can’t think.
Djokovic is called Plastic Man by many for his ability to bend like he was made out of rubber. He has victory in his eyes and the world number one determination.
The fact that Djokovic is not only a player but also a friend makes everything more difficult. My best matches with him are the ones we were side by side in doubles.
Of all my defeats, those to Roger are the ones I regret the least. I know I gave all I had every time and I lost against the best of all.
Roger Federer jokes all the time. I’m always surprised by the difference between everyday life Federer and on-court Federer. He is a kind man keen to have a laugh and a joke with everybody.
‘Ashamed of fines’
Ranked 13 in the world, Fognini is famous for his temper tantrums on the court. But the Italian said he isn’t proud of his behavior.
“In 2014, I received one of the Wimbledon biggest fines for smashing a racquet and in 2017 the second biggest US Open fine for insulting a female chair umpire,” he said. “I’m not proud of these record, I’m actually ashamed of them.”