Foul-mouthed tirades mar Fognini's epic comeback at Australian Open
Italian firebrand Fabio Fognini came through an intense five-set epic at the Australian Open Tuesday in a match overshadowed by expletive-laden rants at the umpire, who was slammed as "pathetic".
The 12th seed was two sets down when his first round clash against giant American Reilly Opelka was halted by rain on Monday.
They returned under blue skies on Tuesday when Fognini emerged a 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) winner but with an injured hand after hitting his racquet in anger.
The injury was testament to a niggly affair with no love lost between the players.
When Opelka felt Fognini got away with time-wasting and not being penalised for throwing his racquet, he confronted umpire Carlos Bernardes.
"Let me ask you something, real quick," an incensed Opelka said, before aiming a volley of swear words at the official.
"You're pathetic. You give me one warning after one throw. He's thrown his three or four times, bro," he added.
Fognini, who lost his temper several times on Monday, also had strong words for the umpire, ranting in Italian and gesturing with his hands, apparently over a time violation.
He reportedly told Bernardes: "You're not fit for this."
Asked about it later, Fognini, who had a nasty red mark across the knuckles on his racquet hand, did not want to dwell on the angry exchanges.
"It was not my problem," he said, preferring to focus on his comeback, which saw him withstand 35 aces from the 6ft 11ins (211cm) Opelka.
"I was lucky that the rain came on the right time. Yesterday he was playing better than me," he added. "This kind of player is probably one of the worst first round matches. Really tough."
Asked whether the red mark was a burn, Fognini relied: "It's okay, I hit the racquet. Yes (it hurt) a little bit. Especially this finger," he added, pointing to his right index finger.
Opelka admitted his rant at the umpire didn't help his cause against the Italian hothead.
"No, not at all. It hurts me," he said. "It's a negative emotion, especially against a guy like him. You want to keep him out of the match as much as possible.
"You don't want to engage with a guy like that. It's definitely not a positive thing."
The ugly scenes came a day after feisty Canadian Denis Shapovalov verbally abused an umpire in his first round defeat by Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
The world number 13 turned on the official when he received a code violation for throwing his racquet.
"I'm not breaking any rules," he shouted. "It's my racquet, I can do whatever the hell I want with it."
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