Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 March 2020

'Pathetic': Foul-mouthed tirades as Fabio Fognini survives Australian Open five-set, two-day epic

The 12th seed emerged a 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 winner against giant American Reilly Opelka in a match laden with expletives

Italy's Fabio Fognini celebrates after victory against Reilly Opelka of the US during their men's singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2020. IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE / AFP / DAVID GRAY / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE
Italy's Fabio Fognini celebrates after victory against Reilly Opelka of the US during their men's singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2020. IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE / AFP / DAVID GRAY / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE

Fabio Fognini slammed the umpire in his first round match at the Australian Open as "pathetic" after coming through an intense five-set epic against giant American Reilly Opelka.

The 12th seed was two sets down when his first round clash against Opelka was halted by rain on Monday. They returned under blue skies on Tuesday when Fognini emerged a 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 winner.

But it was a niggly affair with no love lost between the players in a match overshadowed by expletive-laden rants at the umpire.

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."

Fognini, who lost his temper several times on Monday, also had a meltdown at the umpire, ranting in Italian and gesturing with his hands.

He reportedly told Bernardes: "You're not fit for this."

Asked afterwards whether ranting at the umpire helped him let off steam, Opelka told AFP: "No, not at all. It hurts me.

"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.

Reilly Opelka was unhappy at what he perceived was time wasting by his Fabio Fognini. AFP
Reilly Opelka was unhappy at what he perceived was time wasting by his Fabio Fognini. AFP

The umpire gave the world No 13 a code violation for throwing his racquet and it didn't go down well.

"I'm not breaking any rules," he shouted at the official. "It's my racquet, I can do whatever the hell I want with it.

"If I broke it, give me a code, 100 per cent. I didn't break my racquet. It was a terrible call, do your job."

Dominic Thiem opened his Australian Open campaign with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 win over France's Adrian Mannarino.

The fifth seed wobbled midway through the second set when he was broken and allowed Mannarino to level at 4-4, but the 26-year-old Austrian recovered quickly, proving strong in the longer rallies, including a 28-shot stunner, to break Mannarino's serve towards the end of the set.

Thiem sealed victory with his seventh ace after two hours and 21 minutes to set up a meeting with either Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Australian wild card Alex Bolt.

Updated: January 21, 2020 10:31 AM

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