MONACO: He may have once been thrown out of the US Open for a misogynistic attack on a female umpire and indulged in a blistering rant at tennis’s NextGen, but Fabio Fognini insists his bad boy image is now a thing of the past.
“I have everything in my life. I’m healthy, I have a baby, I have a wife,” said the 31-year-old Italian whose recently discovered maturity off the court has now been mirrored on it with a maiden Masters title secured in Monte Carlo on Sunday.
The player, born just over the border on the Italian Mediterranean coastline, beat Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in the millionaires’ playground to lift his first Masters trophy.
Courtside was his wife Flavia Pennetta, a former US Open champion towards whom he spent the week happily blowing kisses while shaping hearts with his hands during breaks in play.
Fognini married Pennetta in 2016 and one year later they became parents to baby son Frederico.
Now a model family man, Fognini is concentrating more on his tennis than his temper.
“They are with me all the time,” said Fognini, who knocked out 11-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, of his family.
“You feel happy because when you do your work and you do it great and win … I have to be happy.”
The first Italian to lift the Monte Carlo honours since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1968 no longer strikes fear into chair umpires and line officials.
The new family-friendly version of Fognini even came back onto court on Sunday nearly an hour after his win to meet with cheering ballboys and ballgirls, who engulfed him in a mass hug.
It was all a far cry from his infamous US Open meltdown two years ago.
After falling to countryman and qualifier Stefano Travaglio in the first round, Fognini launched a series of rages, calling Swedish umpire Louise Engzell a “troia (whore)”.
He was fined US$24,000 before being eventually disqualified from the Grand Slam event.
At last year’s French Open, he labelled the attention on the sport’s so-called NextGen of promising youngsters as “bullshit”
“There is such a fuss made about them, I don’t like it, I don’t agree.
“This Next Generation thing is bullshit. Winning 10-8 in the fifth on court 27, you have to go through that – not playing against Federer on Court Philippe Chatrier.”
He returned to the topic in February during the South American clay swing, saying the young stars should be scheduled on secondary match courts until they proved themselves.
“I see the current generation in a different way than mine and the previous one.
“Sometimes they do not say ‘hi’, they believe they are stars. I was pretty crazy as a teenager, but as the time went on I got used to the rules.
“Younger tennis players are not humble.”