As demonstrated by the outstanding number of achievements on the court, Fabio Fognini is undoubtedly one of the top Italian tennis players. He might be an A-lister, but he has managed to keep his innate spontaneity throughout. We watched him training at the 4Slam Tennis Academy and are now able to confirm that not even Barcelona's blazing sun can weaken his cheerful disposition. "It was at 3 p.m., right? I'll have a shower, eat a quick bite and then I'll be right with you," he exclaims as soon as he spots us. Being a professional athlete, he has learned to respect the rules, but being likeable is a quality that is innate. During the photo shoot, Flavia Pennetta (one of the world's top female tennis players) cheers him on. "You look great," she tells him before bursting into laughter—tangible proof of their close bond on and off the court.
What professional achievement are you most proud of?
The first ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) title. Unforgettable.
What's the most powerful feeling when you win a game?
Happiness! But athelets are trained to control their emotions.
And how do you feel when you lose?
I try to understand what needs improvement and take on my next challenge with my head held high.
Who is the most feared opponent on the court?
Federer, Djokovic and Nadal. And sometimes I am afraid of myself.
What is Fabio like in private life?
Very sociable. I always try to spend as much time as possible with my friends. Not an easy task, considering that I am constantly travelling.
Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Everyone has one, but only few dare talking about them. I would rather say I am extremely methodical while getting ready for a match.
How do you recognize a true champion?
From the results they deliver. I am thinking of Valentino Rossi, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer.
Do you reckon your impulsiveness has worked to your advantage or disadvantage during your career?
I believe it enabled me to reach some goals with determination and impetuosity. But I have to admit that sometimes it worked against my own benefit.
Is there anything people ignore about you?
It's often difficult to understand the reasons underlying certain decisions from the outside. People tend to accent single episodes instead of analyzing the big picture. But it's ok. As they say: there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
Do you and your partner Flavia Pennetta ever feel like you are in competition?
I have got a long way to go before I get to her level. We support each other and are there for one another.
Photographer: Marco Cella—Assistant Photographer: Leonardo Ventura—Styling & Text: Gaia Fiore—Editing: Barry Samaha—Make up and Hair: Rosa González—Videographer: Ivan Valencia
Most Significant Titles
July 2013 - Single at Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart
July 2013 - Single at International German Open, Hamburg
February 2014 - Single at VTR Open, Viña del Mar
July 2011 - Double with Simone Bolelli at ATP Open, Umag
February 2013 - Double with Simone Bolelli at Copa Claro, Buenos Aires
January 2015 - Double with Simone Bolelli at Australian Open, Melbourne