On the clay courts where he once practiced as a youth with big dreams, Fabio Fognini won the biggest title of his erratic career by beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 Sunday in the Monte Carlo Masters final.
Although it was Fogninis ninth career title, it was his first at Masters level and will help him push closer to the top 10 when he climbs six places up to 12th in the rankings.
After going out in the third round of the Australian Open, Fognini had won only one match and lost six times before this tournament.
Fogninis career has seen many flashes of brilliance his flicked, laser-beam forehands fly down the line at astonishing speed and his cross-court backhand is equally dangerous but also many temper tantrums.
A player who has beaten Nadal three times on clay in his career, and beaten Nadal once at the U.S. Open after trailing by two sets, must be doing something right.
There have always been question marks hanging over Fognini, and finally winning a Masters may help shed some self-doubt.