After scripting a historic five-set thriller on the John Cain Arena, Fabio Fognini and Salvatore Caruso ended it with an ugly battle and had to be separated by officials.
Fognini, seeded 16, defeated Caruso 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(12) in nearly four hours in the first all-Italian Australian Open men’s singles match of the Open Era.
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The traditional handshake at the net quickly degenerated into a heated argument when Fognini suggested Caruso was lucky on some points in the match. Caruso wasn’t too impressed with Fognini’s observation. This is how the conversation went:
Fognini: You HAVE been …. lucky, you should apologise. I didn’t disrespect you until now
Caruso: What are you talking about?!
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Fognini: You won four identical lucky points. Can’t I say you have been ….. lucky?
Caruso: I didn’t dare to say a single word in the whole match
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Fognini: Why are you breaking my ball then? I just said you were lucky. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. You don’t need to come at me.
Caruso: I didn’t attack you. I’m telling you it’s not the way to behave cause I didn’t tell you a single word. Let’s say, I didn’t expect it from you
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After arguing in Italian for more than a minute, the players proceeded to acknowledge the umpire.
Things got heated between Fognini and Caruso follow that epic tie-break decider 🇮🇹🔥#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/8OIT1GgSKH
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) February 11, 2021
But Caruso, who had started walking towards the players’ tunnel, returned to renew the verbal battle. The Sicilian confronted the 33-year-old Fognini again and the pair had to be separated by the court supervisor.
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But neither was forthcoming about the incident during the post-match press conferences.
“We are good friends,” a smiling Fognini later told reporters. “You know me… things that happen on court, stay on court. I have nothing to say about that question anymore.”
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When asked to elaborate on the incident, Fognini seemed irritated.
“You understand my words or not?” he said. “Can you please change question, please? Next question, thank you.”