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Third seeded Italian Fabio Fognini will face Michael Vrbensky from the Czech Republic in the first round of the Antalya Open 2021 in Turkey. The game will take place on Friday, January 8, 2021 at approximately 5:40 a.m. EST. This seems like a mismatch on paper with one player in the top 20 and the other outside of the top 300, but it’s not always that easy. The pair have never played against each other and will both aim to get their 2021 season off to a solid start.
Fabio Fognini is one of the most enigmatic players on the ATP Tour today. He is a former top 10 player and has 9 ATP titles including a Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo. His talent is undeniable and he can beat any player in the world on any given day. The problem is that knowing what his state of mind will be like is difficult as he is just as likely to lose to an unknown player as he is to a top 10 player. He had a bad 2020 season, won only one main draw game after the restart and will look to get his career going again with a solid performance in 2021. If he’s in shape, he’s certainly one of the favorites for the title.
Michael Vrbensky is a very talented young player. He practices his job mainly on the ITF and Challenger tours and will enjoy the prospect of facing the unpredictable Italian knowing there is always the possibility of a surprise. He will rise to 311 in 2021 in order to significantly improve his ranking. He has served well and is constant on both sides at the beginning. Like his opponent, he is more comfortable on sand, but unlike Fognini, he is extremely inexperienced on this surface at this level. He will certainly try to be consistent and frustrate his opponent in hopes that he will self-destruct.
Fognini is one of the hardest players to predict because you never know which version of him will come up. One day he is highly motivated and unstoppable and the next completely disinterested. That being said, I expect he’s just too good here. Even if he’s rusty and not his best, this is a top 20 player we’re talking about and he should have too much quality for the young Czech. Fabio Fognini wins.
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