Finishing the previous season just outside the top-10 and with the Masters 1000 crown by his name, Fabio Fognini was ready for another strong campaign in 2020 and to challenge the rivals in front of him. Instead of that, the Italian lost three of the first four encounters of the new year, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open and suffering early losses in Rotterdam and Dubai.
Heading back home to Italy, Fabio is leading his national squad against South Korea in Cagliari on an outdoor clay court. Due to coronavirus, there is no crowd in the stands but the Italians stood strong on an opening day even without them, beating two lower-ranked rivals to send their country 2-0 in front.
In the first rubber, Fabio Fognini too down Duck Hee Lee 6-0, 6-3 in just over an hour, earning his 31st Davis Cup victory and the 23rd in singles. Home player served at only 47% but that wasn't enough for the youngster to create more damage on the return, converting one break chance and giving serve away six times from ten opportunities offered to Fabio to finish on the losing side.
Fabio landed a forehand down the line winner in the first game for an early break, securing another one at 2-0 top forge a massive advantage. Unable to follow the rival's pace, Duck Hee Lee sent a backhand wide to suffer another break in game five before Fognini wrapped up the opener in the next game for a bagel.
The Korean finally held at 0-2 in the second set and broke back in the fourth game to level the score at 2-2, losing ground again after that as Fabio opened a 4-2 lead with a volley winner. Returning at 5-3, the more experienced player secured a break that carried him home, playing well after three straight losses and earning the first victory since January.
"The important thing is that I have brought the point home, no matter how. I missed the competition in the last month and was hoping to deliver my best tennis today. The important thing is to be back on the court but it was a bit strange to play without the crowd; we will try to stay together and overcome the danger caused by a coronavirus.
I told Mager that everything is different in this competition, he must breathe at the beginning and, since he is in good shape, he must play his tennis."