Fixture: Fabio Fognini vs Ugo Humbert
Date: 17 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Round: Second round (Round of 32)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: Masters 1000
Surface : Outdoor clay
Prize money: €3,465,045
Match timing: 2.30 pm CEST, 6 pm IST
Live Telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Sony Six
Fabio Fognini vs Ugo Humbert preview
The 33-year-old chose to undergo arthroscopic surgery on both ankles during the tour's six month suspension, and looked far from his best in his first match back.
While the early rust was understandable, the most worrying aspects of Fognini's game were his flat footwork and labored movement on court - things that are otherwise considered to be the Italian's biggest assets.
Fognini now faces another tough test as a tricky opponent in the form of France's Ugo Humbert awaits in his opener at the Italian Open.
Humbert made a flying start to the new season, winning his career's maiden ATP title in Brisbane. However, he struggled to maintain that level subsequently; Humbert made early exits at six of his next eight tournaments.
The young Frenchman still managed to teach a career-high ranking of No. 42 at the start of March, and will be feeling good about his prospects against a returning Fognini.
Humbert admittedly sees the hardcourts as best suited for his aggressive game, but he has always expressed his ambition to do well on clay too. The Frenchman relies heavily on his backhand to win points, but also tries to make the best use of his solid serve and forecourt skills.
Humbert did well to mix things up in his first-round match against Kevin Anderson, even trying the serve and volley a few times. If he can manage to bring the same sort of intent to this match, it could spell trouble for Fognini.
Fabio Fognini vs Ugo Humbert head-to-head
This will be the first meeting between Fabio Fognini and Ugo Humbert, so their current head-to-head stands at 0-0.
While neither of the two players is heading into this clash with a lot of recent match wins, it is Fognini who will be more desperate to come out on top here. The Italian's last tour win came in Melbourne at the start of the year.
Fabio Fognini vs Ugo Humbert prediction
This is a fairly well balanced matchup on paper. And even though Fabio Fognini is much more comfortable on the surface, he should expect a tough fight from his younger opponent.
The Italian's movement has been a key part of his success on clay in years past. But from the looks of his match in Kitzbuhel, it doesn't look like he has been able to return to 100% agility following the ankle surgeries.
Ugo Humbert will need to do his best to exploit that weakness. If the youngster can continue to come forward and take time away from Fognini, he stands a good chance of winning a majority of the short exchanges.
Even the slightest of let-ups will give the Italian time to engage more with his footwork, going for the few extra adjustment steps behind his groundstrokes. In that case, it could turn into an all-out baseline battle - something that Humber would really want to avoid.
Prediction: Ugo Humbert to win in two tight sets.Published 17 Sep 2020, 00:24 IST