On clay courts where he practiced as a youth with big dreams, Fabio Fognini won the biggest title of his erratic career Sunday, beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in the Monte Carlo Masters final in Monaco.
Fognini, from San Remo, Italy, a 40-minute drive from Monaco along the Mediterranean coast, made his breakthrough at age 31.
Although it was Fognini's ninth career title, it was his first at Masters level. He will climb six places up to 12th in the world rankings.
"I was practicing here when I was young. I know really well this tennis club," Fognini said. "This tournament … it's something that when I was really young I was dreaming about."
Fognini reached the final by defeating defending champion Rafael Nadal in straight sets, becoming the first player to beat Nadal at the Monte Carlo Country Club since Novak Djokovic in the 2015 semifinals.
"It has been an incredible week," Fognini said. "I will keep working. I started the season badly so this is unbelievable."
Since going out in the third round of the Australian Open, Fognini had won only one match and lost six times before this tournament.
Fognini's career has seen many flashes of brilliance — he is well known for his flicked, laser-beam forehands down the line and his cross-court backhand — but also many temper tantrums. He has beaten Nadal three times on clay and once at the U.S. Open, indicating his potential and, until Sunday, his failure to reach it.
"He definitely has the game for top-10," Lajovic said. "We all know that tennis is not just tennis, it's mental most of the time. So it depends on him."
FED CUP TENNIS
Australia, France in final
Australia advanced to the Fed Cup final for the first time in more than a quarter-century after Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur beat Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in doubles in Brisbane.
Australia will play in the final for the first time since 1993 and will face France, which beat Romania 3-2 on clay at Rouen in the other semifinal. Australia will host the Nov. 9-10 final.
U.S. advances in prelims
• Sofia Kenin and Sloane Stephens won matches to give the United States a 3-1 victory over Switzerland in a Fed Cup World Group playoff in San Antonio. The Americans advanced to the 2020 World Group draw, while Switzerland was relegated to World Group II.
Paris Saint-Germain clinches
Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French league title before it kicked a ball Sunday, then poured it on in a 3-1 victory over Monaco.
PSG clinched when second-place Lille drew 0-0 at Toulouse. It's PSG's sixth title in the past seven seasons.
Kylian Mbappe scored all of PSG's goals and reached the 30-goal mark for the season.
Liverpool regains EPL lead
Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory at Cardiff. Liverpool holds a two-point advantage over Manchester City.
Major League Soccer
LAFC gives Seattle first loss
Carlos Vela scored two goals, and host Los Angeles FC beat Seattle 4-1, handing the Sounders' their first loss of the season.
Seattle fell to 5-1-1; LAFC is 7-1-1.
• New York City FC beat D.C. United 2-0 in Washington for its first victory of the season. D.C. United began the game atop the Eastern division.
Death reported at Keeneland
A horse was euthanized after being injured in a race at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. A 4-year-old filly, Amandine, "sustained a catastrophic injury" during the eighth race Friday. Her death was confirmed Sunday.
It's the third death during Keeneland's meet. Horse deaths are being scrutinized because 23 have been euthanized since Christmas at Santa Anita in California.
Crawford takes aim at Spence
Terence Crawford emerged from his fight Saturday with his WBO welterweight belt in hand and a plan in mind.
"The fight I want next is Errol Spence," Crawford said. "Whenever he is ready, he can come and get it."
Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) beat Amir Khan (33-5) when Khan couldn't continue after an accidental low blow.
Spence, the IBF champion, is unbeaten but fights under Premier Boxing Champions, run by Al Haymon. Haymon won't allow the fight, promoter Bob Arum said.