Khachanov’s opponent almost beat the defeated player on the court
Scandal at the tennis tournament in Hamburg
The hot Italian Fabio Fognini caused a scandal at a grass-court tournament in Hamburg and will almost certainly be fined for unsportsmanlike conduct. Most surprisingly, the 35-year-old veteran didn’t hold back his emotions after his winning match. After winning a tiebreaker in the third set of his first-round match against Alyazh Bedene, Fognini attacked his opponent, almost causing a fight. Referee Aurélie Tort dismantled the two players and put her chest on the Slovenian’s shoulders to save her from her aggressive opponent. The Italian will play against Karen Khachanov in his next match in Hamburg, and Fabio’s violent temper is very worrying for the Russian player.
Hand-to-hand violence avoided
Fognini’s match against the 285th-ranked world champion from Slovenia was very hard. The more highly titled Italian scored five break points in the third set and then raced to a hard-fought 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) tie-break victory. And after the winning point Fabio went to sort things out with his opponent. The essence of the conflict was not very clear, because the players shouted at each other without microphones, but Fognini showed Bedena the marks on the court and began to make complaints to him. All that could be heard on the broadcast was Fabio rebuking Alage: “You do this every time we play.” For his part, Bedene was unhappy that the Italian was arguing with the referee too often.
The two players drew close to each other, waving their hands in each other’s faces and looking as if they were ready to clash in hand-to-hand combat. To prevent a scuffle, referee Aurélie Tort came down from the tower and literally squeezed between the players, pushing them apart. The scuffle was ultimately avoided, but the consequences could be very serious. Tennis is considered an intelligent sport, and fights are extremely rare. In 2015, Russian tennis player Yekaterina Bychkova was fined and disqualified for 18 months for punching a simulant opponent after she lost a match – and it happened off-court, some time after the match ended.
It’s not the first time Fognini’s violent temper has gotten him into big trouble. Of course, the Italian is a far cry from the insane Australian Nick Kirios, but Fabio’s career has been full of scandalous stories as well. In 2017, he was suspended for two Grand Slam tournaments for insulting a female judge at the U.S. Open. In 2019, at the tournament in Shanghai, in a match against Karen Khachanov, the Italian spat toward the linesman, who noticed the Italian stepping on the line while serving. After receiving a warning, Fognini lashed out at one of the Russian’s fans, suggesting that he leave the stands and go buy himself a beer.
At the same tournament Fabio almost fought with Andy Murray in the locker room after telling the Scot to “shut up” during the match. Last year, Fognini earned a disqualification at a tournament in Barcelona for unsportsmanlike conduct and insulting the line judge, who recorded his footstep. As he left the court, the athlete hit his racket against the net post and said he did nothing prejudicial. So, if the Hamburg tournament organizers now decide to cool down the conflicting player, it would be a logical decision. In the next match in the 1/8 finals Fognini, by the way, will play again with Karen Khachanov, who also sometimes cannot restrain his emotions and quarrels with the judges.
Is this a sport or an aristocratic dinner?
Judge Aurélie Tort also regularly gets into various kinds of incidents. Overall, this French woman is one of the most famous female umpires in professional tennis, with a track record that includes working at Grand Slam finals. In 2020, it was Tort who officiated Novak Djokovic’s famous match at the U.S. Open, when the Serb accidentally threw the ball down the linesman’s throat and ended up earning a match penalty. That scandalous decision, however, was not made by a chair umpire, but by a supervisor he called. And in 2021 at a tournament in Toronto, Tort had an equally epic conflict with Russian Daniil Medvedev.
During one of the draws Medvedev hit a smash right into the body of his opponent – Alexander Bublik from Kazakhstan. By some miracle he could deflect the shot, but he fell. The ball remained in play, and Daniil had only to throw it to the other side of the court. The Russian apologized to Alexander and did not wait until the end of the game. And at that moment Tort awarded the point to Bublik, because Medvedev was not allowed to talk to his opponent during the draw. Technically, Aurélie was right, but based on the episode, the decision looked silly. The stubbornness of the judge made Daniil very angry, but, fortunately, he refrained from insults.
A similar story just happened at the Challenger in Trieste with Latvian tennis player Ernests Gulbis. According to gotennis.ru, the referee gave him a warning for shouting too loudly “kamon! “What’s wrong? I made a drop shot and my opponent started saying something. What am I supposed to do?” – Gulbis resented. “All situations like that have to be discussed with me. You can’t do what you did,” the referee replied. “I can’t look someone in the eye and yell, ‘Camon! – the Latvian was surprised and, sitting down on the bench, continued to be indignant: “The guy whines the whole match, and I get a warning for ‘kamon’. Is this a sport or an aristocratic dinner?”