Andy Murray out of Italian Open after first-round defeat to Fabio Fognini

  • Murray beaten 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in opening round in Rome
  • Scot has lost in first round of his last four Masters 1000 events

Despite arriving with good form and high confidence after his title run at the Aix-en-Provence ATP Challenger last week, Andy Murray was unable to translate his form to a bigger stage as he was upset 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 by his old foe Fabio Fognini in a tight, chaotic first-round match at the Italian Open late on Wednesday night.

“It was a pretty patchy match,” said Murray. “There was some good stuff in there but also some pretty average stuff. He played very well in the third set. My level was OK in the third, but he played really well in the third.”

Murray began favourite against an opponent who has been out with injury in recent weeks. The Italian arrived on the court with a 2-8 record in 2023 having fallen to his current ranking of 130th in the world. But the pair have competed at the same tournaments since they were 11 years old and Murray knew Fognini would be dangerous on clay in front of an animated home crowd.

Fognini gave an immediate demonstration of his timing and languid shotmaking, striking the ball sweetly as Murray struggled badly with his own timing. The Italian closed out the first set after 16 forehand winners. Murray eventually found greater depth with his return and he struck the ball more cleanly as Fognini’s level dropped. After flitting to a 5-1 second set lead, Murray twice failed to serve out the set before converting his seventh set point.

Just as Murray had gained the momentum he squandered it entirely. Murray opened the third set with a poor service game, which proved the decisive moment. Fognini shut Murray out of all subsequent service games to seal a memorable win.

After starting the year so positively, another early loss for Murray is a bitter disappointment. He has now lost in the first round of his last four Masters 1000 events and he is on a five-match losing streak at this level since reaching the third round of Indian Wells in March.

Afterwards Murray said he is unsure about whether he will take a wildcard into another tournament before next week, compete at the French Open or focus on the grass-court season. “I’d still like to play but we did agree that we’d talk and make a decision as a team after Rome,” he said.

“That is what I wanted, to see how my game felt, how I was playing and physically how I was doing in some of the longer matches before making a definitive call on it. We’ll have those discussions in the next few days.”


Tumaini Carayol in Rome

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