In a clash between the top two seeds, who are also set to compete in the doubles together in Canada, Juan Martin del Potro and Fabio Fognini face off in the Los Cabos final. For del Potro, it is the chance to win a third title this year, and a second in Mexico after his triumph in Acapulco. Fognini is also looking for his third title of the year, and a first on hard courts in his career. But will it be Italy or Argentina that reign triumphant?
Fognini and del Potro have met just once on Tour although they have also clashed three times below the main Tour. Their first match came at a Challenger in Montevideo on clay in 2005, which del Potro won 6-1 6-4. He won again two years later in Ecuador at another Challenger when Fognini was forced to retire after five games. In their third meeting, in the qualifying for the Italian Open in 2007, Fognini won by virtue of a del Potro retirement. The Argentine then won in Sydney in 2015, 4-6 6-2 6-2.
Path to the final
As the top seed, del Potro received a first round bye and thus began his tournament in the round of 16 against American qualifier Marcos Giron. Giron, ranked outside the top 300, gave a good account of himself but ultimately could not match del Potro’s power, losing 5-7 3-6. He then crushed Belarus’ Egor Gerasimov 6-1 6-1 to reach the semifinals, where he faced third seed Damir Dzumhur. The Bosnian played well, but del Potro had the best of things, winning 6-3 7-6.
Fognini, who also enjoyed a first round bye, began his tournament with a comeback win against Frenchman Quentin Halys who he defeated 2-6 6-4 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals. There he faced Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, who is still working his way back from an ACL injury sustained last year and was dismissed 2-6 2-6 by Fognini. The Italian then overwhelmed Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who was competing in his second straight semifinal, 6-4 6-2.
How do they match up?
Central to del Potro’s chances of success in this match, and any other, is how effectively he is able to bring his forehand into play. It is unquestionably the biggest in the sport, and the Argentine has used it to smash through the defences of every opponent he has faced so far in Mexico. His backhand, though not the shot it was before his two surgeries on his left wrist, is also an increasingly useful shot for del Potro and he has been serving well.
Fognini lacks the outright power and weaponry of del Potro, but both his forehand and backhand are dangerous weapons when he is hitting the ball with confidence, as he has done all week. He is also, despite appearing a little flat-footed, an excellent mover and he will need to be at his best defensively against del Potro. One weakness he will need to defend is his serve, particularly his second delivery, which can be vulnerable to attack.
This is a significant step up in quality for both men, especially Fognini, who hasn’t faced a player ranked higher than Cameron Norrie at world #74. It will be del Potro who has the advantage coming into this match as the Argentine is a much better hard court player than Fognini, having won the two biggest titles of his career in New York and Indian Wells on the surface. That will prove the difference and expect a straight sets del Potro win.