2016 French Open: Fabio Fognini vs Marcel Granollers

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First round play continues at Roland Garros on Tuesday with 32nd seed Fabio Fognini squaring off against Marcel Granollers. Fognini has won five of eight against the Spaniard, but they have not met since 2013.

(32) Fabio Fognini vs Marcel Granollers
Fognini rides a three match losing skid into Paris with the last two losses especially puzzling or perhaps a perfect depiction of Fab Mode. The mode where the Italian appears to generally not give a f*ck about winning. We like to call that DGAF. That was especially apparent in his 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss to Donald Young in Nice. Fognini won less than 60 percent of his points on his first serve and generally looked resigned to going home once the tide turned in that match. A 6-1, 7-6 loss to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Rome showed his second serve failing as he landed just 48 percent of his first serve. GGL pounded his second serve for 22 of 36 points. When he’s in Fab Mode, Fognini seems to go all wrong with his serve one way or the other.

For Granollers, it has been a resurgent few months. It all seemed to turn around at the Irving Tennis Classic in March, where he won that Challenger title and then began his surge. He went from being ranked 92nd up to his current position of 56. He made the Monte Carlo quarterfinals as well as the quarters is Istanbul on clay this spring. He lost a little steam lately with a loss to Joao Sousa in Madrid and then a tough fight against Alexander Zverev in the 2nd round in Nice last week. The talented teen downed Granollers in three sets.

Fognini has generally be a solid, but unspectacular play at Roland Garros. He had made the third round every year since 2010, until that streak was stopped in 2015. The Italian was taken out in round two by Benoit Paire in straight sets. He does have one big run, a quarterfinal showing was back in 2011. In true Fognini mode, he withdrew before playing Novak Djokovic in the quarters that year after blowing his wad against Albert Montanes in an extended 11-9 fifth set win in round four.

Granollers had a pair of fourth round runs in 2012 and 2014 at the French Open, but has mostly been a first or second round ouster in his other six trips to Paris. Last year, the Spaniard had the misfortune to draw Roger Federer in the second round, where he lost in straight sets. In his 2014 fourth round run, his stay was ended by Milos Raonic in straight sets. It’s not as if he’s had terrible losses, just he draw generally catches him at some point. This year, he might find his opener a big more to his liking.

It’s been three years since these two last met, so their career paths have gone in different directions. The past results likely don’t yield a ton about what to expect. Fognini won two of three meetings in 2013 with one win on clay. Their other five encounters all came on clay between 2007-2012. Fognini took three of five with two at the Challenger level. Granollers took their most high profile match at the Rome Masters in 2012 by a 6-3, 6-4 final.

Strategy-wise in this one, a lot is going to depend on the serves that are present. Neither is particularly rock solid in that category. Fognini has faced 136 break points this year, saving 60 percent of those in 19 matches. Granollers has faced 156 break points and saved 62 percent in 23 matches. Those stats tell us that you’re going to see plenty of break chances off both players’ racquets, it’s a matter of who converts more. Granollers has done slightly better in that category this year with a 46 percent conversion rate to 42 percent for Fognini.

Both players employ similar tactics on their ground strokes with double handed backhands and decent, but not overpowering forehands. Fognini has shown the ability to get in a zone and paint lines with his ground strokes, but his consistency can wander so much in a single set. That makes it tough for him to work out of holes when his serve is off. Granollers can fall into a similar pattern and really this one should go to the player who finds more consistency with their serve. It’s tough to say who that will be with both capable of being in nuclear meltdown mode on-serve at any time, but The Pig really didn’t like what #FabMode was showing lately.

Prediction
Granollers wins in five sets

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