Fabio Fognini has found his tennis serenity — and it has coincided with the best form of his career.

The always entertaining Italian will be top seed at this year's ASB Classic, after a brilliant 2019 season where he won his first Masters title and reached a career-high of No 9 in the world.

Fognini has always been an incredible talent, with shots and angles that few others can conjure.

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But making the most of that potential has been elusive, as he has struggled for consistency.

But fatherhood and a settled home life, combined with a new philosophy about the sport, has produced rich outcomes for the 32-year-old.

"Probably because outside I am more relaxed, more peaceful, happier," said Fognini, when asked why he had reached a new peak after turning 30.

"Because I have the baby, we are married. I have the life that I was dreaming about from the beginning when I was young."

Fognini is married to former US Open women's champion Flavia Pennetta and the couple welcomed their second child (a daughter) just before Christmas.

"The most important thing now is that I am happy, outside and of course inside," said Fognini, as he tried ice carving at an sponsors appearance with Moet and Chandon.

"Because these two things make me more relaxed, make me feel like, it's not fair to say, but like there's not tension. We're always getting tension of course, because we're studying our next opponent, how many points we have this week, if I play well or if I'll drop in the ranking."

World No 12 and ASB Classic top seed Fabio Fognini tries out ice carving at a sponsors' appearance ahead of his first match at the tournament.
World No 12 and ASB Classic top seed Fabio Fognini tries out ice carving at a sponsors' appearance ahead of his first match at the tournament.

"But believe me I don't care," added Fognini. "I know that now I am at the end of my career so I would like to enjoy as best as I can the last part of my career and try to do my best."


Fognini reached six quarter finals in 2019, as well as his remarkable run in Monte Carlo, where he beat world No 3 Alex Zverev in the third round before a straight sets defeat of Rafa Nadal in the semi final.

"That was the best tournament of my career for sure," said Fognini. "Really good memories and emotion, because I was born in San Remo, so it's really close to there. I was practicing [at Monte Carlo] when I was young so it was obviously a dream."

That helped to propel him into the top 10, becoming the oldest player in history to make the esteemed group for the first time, and the first Italian since 1979.

But even though he has found inner peace, the often volatile Fognini can still be a firebrand on court.

"I have to be honest," said Fognini. "I'm like anyone when they go to work, I'm going to try the best I can and if I play bad one day, have a bad situation or don't feel good on court, I'm going to be the same, like always.

"I never say I'm going to change it behind one yellow ball. I'm Fabio Fognini 110 per cent inside and outside of the court."

Despite his form, and pedigree (two quarter finals), Fognini is quick to play down his chances in Auckland.

"I'm here with no expectation," said Fognini. "Even if I am the No1 seed it doesn't count. I'm healthy , I'm happy, I'll try to do my best. The first match is most important I have to be really focused on that and see what happens."