Standing on the verge of defeat against Andrey Rublev in the opening round, the 13th seed Fabio Fognini has managed to shift into a higher gear and overcome the Russian, receiving the second round bye to face Alexander Zverev in the battle for the quarter-final.
The young German has been struggling so far in 2019 and he played another match to forget, losing 7-6, 6-1 to send the Italian into his fifth Masters 1000 quarter-final, the second here in Monte Carlo. Zverev won their previous two encounters in 2017 easily but there was not even a glimpse of that in today's clash, leaving the court after an hour and a half and losing the points he grabbed for the place in the semi-final a year ago.
Playing well on both the first and second serve, Fognini lost 18 points in ten service games, facing only one break point and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net. Alexander converted that lone chance but he needed more to stay in touch, losing more than 40% of the points behind the initial shot and getting broken three times from seven opportunities offered to Fabio who had the upper hand in set number two to seal the deal and earn his most significant win in terms of the ranking since Rome 2017.
Hitting just 11 winners and 25 unforced errors, Zverev was far from his usual level, struggling to keep the pace with the Italian who outplayed him completely in the mid-range rallies to forge the triumph and secure the spot in the last eight.
Fabio drew first blood in the fifth game when Zverev hit a double fault, staying in front only for a few minutes before losing serve to bring the youngster back to the positive side of the scoreboard. Alexander saved a couple of break points in the seventh game and stayed in touch until 6-6 in the tie break, spraying a colossal forehand error that gave Fognini the crucial mini-break, closing the opener with a smash winner in the 14th point in just under an hour.
Zverev had nothing left in the tank in set number two, staying away from break points and giving serve away in the second game after a weak volley at the net. A forehand winner delivered another break for Fabio at 4-1 and the victory was in his hands after a hold at 15 in the next game.
Italy will have two players in the Masters 1000 quarter-final for the first time since Hamburg 2005 (Andreas Seppi and Filippo Volandri) thanks to a qualifier Lorenzo Sonego who ousted Cameron Norrie 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 24 minutes for already the ninth ATP win in 2019, entering the season with five in total!
Competing in only the fourth Masters 1000 event, Lorenzo has been on fire so far this week and there was nothing Cameron could do to stop him, with the Italian losing just 13 points in ten service games, saving two out three break points and challenging the Briton to do the same in his games.
That never happened, though, with Norrie losing 45% of the points behind the initial shot, facing ten break points and suffering four breaks to send Lorenzo through. Sonego had 20 winners and 17 unforced errors, staying far in front of Norrie's 16-30 ratio and having the upper hand in the quickest rallies up to four strokes and in the mid-range ones to seal the deal in straight sets.
After trailing in the bigger part of the clash, Cameron managed to extend the match with a late break in game ten of the second set before Lorenzo broke him again in the next game, holding at love with a service winner at 6-5 to move into the quarters and start a huge celebration.
The 9th seed Borna Coric is through to the seventh Masters 1000 quarter-final, toppling Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 41 minutes, saving all three break points he faced and delivering three breaks of serve against the rival who landed only 45% of the first serve in.
The Frenchman was there with Borna in the segment of the shortest points and Coric did the magic in those that were more challenging, playing better and better as the match progressed to book the place in the last eight.