Lone Italian at Rogers Cup goes home empty-handed

Fabio Fognini on leaving Italy for career, difference between women’s and men’s tennis

By Elena Serra

He’s the only Azzuro in this 2010 edition of the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Fabio Fognini, 23, from Sanremo, turned pro in 2002 and is currently ranked 92 on the ATP list.
Fognini began play in this tournament at Rexall Centre on the opening weekend, playing in the qualifying round and getting to the main draw by ousting 23-year-old Erik Chvojka 6-2 and 6-4, and the American Michael Yani with a 6-4 and 6-3 scoreline.
On Tuesday in a first-round match-up, the Liguria player won against Czech Radek Stepanek, ranked 29th in the world. But on Wednesday Fognini fell to Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko (ranked sixth in the world) who topped the Italian player with a score of 7-5, 6-1, effectively shutting Fognini out of the tournament.
Corriere Canadese/Tandem met with Fabio Fognini, and asked his reasons for the clear difference in performance between Italian men’s and women’s tennis.

Have you been to Canada before?
“Yes, I was in Montreal in 2007. There too I started with qualifying games then lost in the third round to Roger Federer. So far, I’ve done well in Canada. Let’s see what happens here in Toronto.”

Let’s talk a bit about the Italian tennis situation. There are two players in the top-10 for women, while it appears the men are having a harder time. What do you think is the reason for that?
“The reason is that women’s tennis and men’s tennis are two different sports. Obviously, we’re glad because we’re all Italian and we support athletes from our country, in whatever discipline. We have our difficulties, and the women probably theirs, but it’s definitely a different (brand of) tennis, and everyone makes their own way.”

What’s the mood in the Azzurri dressing room?
“We all get along. We’re very good friends.”

Are there federation-level issues that influence this difference in performance between the men and women?
“No, there’s no problem. We’ll be competing in September in the game against Sweden (Editor’s note: Davis Cup) and the women will again play for a chance to win the world championship (Editor’s note: Fed Cup).”

Where do you train?
“In Barcellona.”

So you’re another one who has decided to leave Italy.
“Yes. Even Sara Errani and Flavia Pennetta left to go abroad. I made my decision three and a half years ago with my athletic trainer who came with me. For now, things are going reasonably well so I see no reason to change.”

So you wouldn’t return to Italy?
“Obviously being home is a pleasure, but I have to see what’s best for my career. I don’t know where I’ll be in a couple of years but I want to work every day to build my future.”

Make a wild prediction: Who will be the first Italian to win a Grand Slam tournament?
“I wouldn’t know,” he says laughing. “I’d like to mention my name, but there’s definitely much more work to do. I’ll remain humble, but obviously I won’t hide that I’m working every day to achieve this great dream. The road is still long.”

Story Location: http://www.tandemnews.com/viewstory.php?storyid=10407

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