Fabio Fognini’s previous wins over Rafael Nadal will stand him in good stead when the two clash in the Australian Open fourth round on Monday, according to Eurosport expert Tim Henman.
The Italian trails Nadal 12-4 in their head-to-head but won their last match at a Grand Slam, albeit six years ago at the US Open.
Fognini’s run to the second week was made memorable by an astonishing on-court argument with compatriot Salvatore Caruso, with the 33-year-old inciting his opponent by calling him "f***ing lucky" after coming through a fifth set tie-breaker in the second round.
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And Henman believes that only a fully focused Fognini will have a hope of upsetting Nadal, who is yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park this year.
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Henman: Fognini knows he can beat Nadal
"They’ve played on quite a few occasions before. Fognini has beaten him on clay, and also on hard courts at the US Open when he came back from two sets down to win in five," said Henman.
"It’s very important psychologically that he’s got those victories. He knows he can beat Nadal.
"He’s going to have to be very focused, we know Fognini can be very volatile. He’s going to have to serve a high percentage and make sure that he really gets on top of the rallies early on so that Rafa is not able to dictate too much with that big forehand."
Nadal is seeking to win a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title in Australia and will be buoyed by Novak Djokovic’s injury troubles and Dominic Thiem’s early exit.
The Spaniard has won the tournament just once, in 2009, while Fognini has never progressed beyond the fourth round – although he did win the men’s doubles title in 2015.
'F****** lucky!' - Fognini and Caruso in astonishing on-court bust-up
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