Fabio Fognini will head straight to next week’s crowd-free Rome Masters for remedial work after the Monte Carlo champion made a dismal injury return to tennis after more than six months away.

The top-seeded Italian was hammered on Thursday by No. 303 Swiss Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-1, 6-2 in less than an hour in the second round at the Austrian resort of Kitzbuehel.

Fognini was making a return after double ankle surgery in the early spring, with his rehab period extended by the five-month tennis COVID-19 lockdown.

The 33-year-old last played as he lost in Dubai in February to Brit Dan Evans; his opponent claimed only his third career victory at the ATP level.

Fognini’s decline began as he dropped serve in the second game, an error from which he never recovered. His errors included three double-faults in the same game.

Defeat marked the 10th on clay for Fognini which took less than an hour and the fifth time he has been beaten by an opponent ranked outside the Top 300.

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