Fabio Fognini reacts to beating Dominic Thiem in Rome opener

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Fabio Fognini reacts to beating Dominic Thiem in Rome opener

Italian tennis star Fabio Fognini called Dominic Thiem a "great champion" after beating the Austrian in the Rome Masters first round. Fognini, ranked at No. 56 in the world, overcame former world No. 3 Thiem in straight sets 6-4 7-6 (5) to progress into the Rome second round.

It was the fifth meeting between the two. Even though Thiem lost to Fognini in Rome, he still owns a positive head-to-head versus Fognini as he now has three wins and two losses versus the Italian. "Of course I'm happy because I won," Fognini said after his victory, as quoted on the ATP Tour website.

"It's never easy playing against a great champion. Happy to be here and another chance to play in this great atmosphere."

Fognini feels still 'okay' physically

In two weeks, Fognini will turn 35. "It's always difficult, especially because now I'm 35," Fognini noted.

"Physically, I'm quite OK. I feel good when I run. Of course I need to do some things on my game, try to push the ball harder because conditions are really slow. But these kinds of conditions are tough for everybody." On Monday, Thiem had the first break points of the match in the fourth game but failed to convert any of his two break points as Fognini leveled the set to two games apiece.

After saving break points, Fognini claimed the first break of the match in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. In the following game, Fognini served out for the first set. Thiem had a chance to start the second set with an early break but Fognini saved a break point in the second game of the set.

Fognini then earned the first break of the second set in the seventh game, but failed to serve out for the match in the 10th game.

Blowing a match point in the 10th game didn't impact Fognini, who realized his second match point in the tie-break to complete a striaght-set win.

Fabio Fognini Dominic Thiem