Tennis Prose



Fognini vs Murray Rivalry Resumes In Rome

By Scoop Malinowski

Andy Murray and Fabio Fognini are both 35 years old and ATP Tour titans but that’s about all they have in common. The two veterans are far from fond of each other.

Their rivalry is a very good one, the head to head stands even at 4-4. Fognini won their last match in Shanghai 2019 second round 76 26 76. That duel featured a verbal confrontation during play when Fognini shouted as Murray was about to hit a smash at the net. Murray converted the winner but was not amused by Fognini’s lack of sportsmanship.

An argument ensued and Murray revealed some of the pair’s dirty laundry. The two had a prior history and Murray disputed Fognini’s claim that the hindrance shout was just for fun. Fognini also told Murray he should stop staring at him. At one point while chatting with the chair umpire, Murray barked at Fognini to “shut up.”

Fognini ended up winning that grudge match to level their series at 4-4. Murray had won the previous meeting at Wimbledon 2017 in four sets.

When I was working on Facing Andy Murray book in 2017/2018 I was totally unaware the two had a feud. I approached Fognini at the Miami Open mixed zone after he beat Joao Sousa, to ask his memories of Facing Andy Murray. Fognini looked at me annoyed and asked me what is the sense of asking me about Murray now? I tried to explain that this was a good chance to ask about playing Andy for my book. After a few moments of irritation, Fognini seemed to read my expression and sincerity and then decided to talk about his memories of Facing Murray. But he only gave a bland vanilla cliche answer, as if to get rid of me as quickly as possible.

Here is the excerpt from my book Facing Andy Murray…

Fognini: “Are we talking about the match of the day? There is no sense in the question you asked me.”

Question: I know you don’t expect this question now after your match (Miami Open three set win vs Joao Sousa 7-6 2-6 6-3) but it’s the only chance to ask it for a book I’m working on about Facing Andy Murray…

Fabio Fognini: “Nothing to tell you [chuckles]. We first met as teenagers. He’s a great champion. He was No. 1 in the world. Of course it’s difficult to play against him. I don’t know why you ask me this question now. Nothing to say. At the moment he’s the best in the world. It’s always difficult to play against him.”

But in his 2020 autobiography, Fognini pulled no punches and revealed how he and Murray really feel about each other and some details about their curious friction: “Me and Murray never got along. We are two hotheads and we lose our cool pretty quickly. When we are on court we despise each other. He was arrogant since young age. A guy all lobs and dropshots, tricky shots designed to mock you.”

So it will be a very interesting match in the first round when Murray and Fognini meet for the ninth time as pros. Murray just won a Challenger in France and re-entered the top 50 at 42. He is urgently trying to regain his mojo and become a relevant Grand Slam title contender again. Meanwhile. Fognini is desperately working to save his career. Fognini received a wildcard into Rome because he is ranked 130 now.

So the stakes are high for Murray vs Fognini meeting no. 9 at Rome this week.

Bill Tilden once said after he beat Ted Schroeder, “I never lose to someone I hate.”

Fognini disclosed he and Murray “despise” each other on court, so somebody is going to celebrate the old Tilden mantra and somebody is going to suffer the brunt of it.

Facing Andy Murray book $9.99!

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1 comment

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 10, 2023 at 3:07 pm

    Fognini won first set 64, Murray up 51 in second.



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