While Fognini is featuring for the first time ever in his long career at Rotterdam, his 23-year old opponent, Khachanov is still searching for his maiden win after he faltered in the opening rounds on all the three occasions in the past three years on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam.
On the ATP tour so far, Khachanov and Fognini have faced each other twice. They engaged in battles against each other in back-to-back tournaments in China last year and their head-to-head record stands at one apiece. While Khachanov recorded a come from behind 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory at the quarter-final of China Open at Beijing, Fognini cruised to a straight-sets 6-3, 7-5 victory over the Russian at the Shanghai Masters 1000 last October.
After losing to Tennys Sandgren in his fourth round encounter at the Australian Open, the 32-year old Italian would be gutted for having missed an opportunity to make inroads at the first Slam of the year and that would be an added motivation for the World No.11 as he takes on Khachanov in his first match since his loss at the Australian Open.
Khachanov looks for redemtpion
For Khachanov, he lost a titanic match against Nick Kyrgios in his 3rd round contest at Melbourne and after a rather disappointing 2019, the Russian would consider Rotterdam Open as an opportunity to rise from the gloom of defeats and inconsistency.
Quintessentially a clay-court specialist, Fognini’s career story has been plagued by injuries and missed opportunities and as he makes his debut at Rotterdam, the veteran Italian would fancy adding a 2nd hard-court title to his bag of titles that is heavily dominated by titles on clay.
Khachanov has been title less since November 2018, Paris Masters 1000 in 2018 being his last title won. After enjoying a career-high ranking of No.8 last year, the upbeat Russian has fallen off the radar as he aims for consistency in the build-up to the twin Masters 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami that are scheduled to begin in March.
With Fognini and Khachanov being predominantly baseliners, one can expect long and exhausting rallies as the former aims for a win in his maiden appearance while the latter is eager to break his three-match losing streak at the Rotterdam Open.
In a pulsating contest that awaits us at the Centre Court at Rotterdam, can the No.5 seed Fognini, known for his lazy elegance, pass the stern Khachanov test or will the 23-year old Russian record his first win in four attempts at the Rotterdam Open?
Let the contest get underway as volatile Fognini takes on inconsistent Khachanov in their 1st round encounter at the Rotterdam Open.
Prediction: Fabio Fognini to win in three sets.