ATP Tour

'Wild horse' Fognini says victory will not rein him in

Fabio Fognini (AP)
Fabio Fognini (AP)

Estoril - Fabio Fognini insisted on Tuesday that he will remain a "wild horse" as he returns to the court for the first time since winning his first major title in Monte Carlo.

The 12th-ranked Italian takes the second seeding behind Stefanos Tsitsipas at this week's Estoril Open, part of the clay-court run up to the French Open.

While wife and 2015 US Open winner Flavia Pennetta told Rome's La Repubblica that the birth of the couple's son Federico in May, 2017, had somewhat tamed her "wild horse" - Fognini insists that was not the case.

"Nothing  will change Fabio Fognini, not even by 10 per cent," he said after his arrival in Estoril near Lisbon. "I'll still be a wild horse, as Flavia said.

"I don't care what the people say, even though I now have a son. But I now say that the best thing about winning is being able to go home and celebrate with my family."

Pennetta said that her sometimes controversial husband was an acquired taste for some fans.

"He'll never come on court as an English lord - he's divisive.

"People love him or they hate him precisely because he's a wild horse. He's unique in tennis."

Fognini, who beat 11-time champion Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo semi-final before taking the title with a victory over Dusan Lajovic, will be back in action after recovering from a thigh strain he picked up during the biggest week of his career.

"I'm here to do my best," he said ahead of his first match in Estoril in a decade, in the second round against Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay on Wednesday

"But I don't count myself as a Roland Garros favourite. If Rafa is on fire, he's the favourite on clay.

"(Barcelona champion Dominic) Thiem should be a threat and Roger is coming back to clay in Madrid on fast hardcourt.

"Of course my goal is to win Roland Garros, but I can only look at each round at a time, take it day by day .

"But my goals have changed a bit, I'll admit, after winning Monte Carlo."

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