Denis Shapovalov is through to the second round of the Italian Open but his 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3 victory over Lorenzo Sonego was overshadowed by an outburst from the world No 16 in the second set.
After winning a gruelling 91-minute first set, Shapovalov was 3-4 down in the second set when a crucial second serve was ruled out by umpire Richard Haigh, overturning the line-judge’s initial call, and handing Sonego a break point.
The Canadian then crossed the net to protest to show the official the mark, which earned him a second code violation of the net.
“Denis, because you crossed the net, you’re going to get another code violation – that’s a point penalty,” Haigh told him. “You can’t cross the net.”
Shapovalov continued to argue and then demanded the umpire call a supervisor, adding: “I’m not doing anything unsportsmanlike – how can you give a point penalty for that?”
“That’s just the rule,” Haigh replied.
“No it’s not, it’s stupid,” said Shapovalov.
“That’s so unfair.”
An increasingly impatient crowd began to jeer Shapovalov and in response, he turned towards the fans and screamed at them to “shut the f**k up”.
It was only then that his code violation was announced over the speaker system, which may explain why he avoided a game penalty as the process of his second violation had not yet been completed. Alternatively, the din was such on court that his obscenity might not actually have been audible to the crowd or the umpire.
The officials struggled to gain control of the situation as Shapovalov continued to gesture to members of the crowd. He asked for one fan to be removed, but Haigh refused because he believed the 23-year-old was “inciting him a little bit”.
Shapovalov apologised to the umpire after the match, but it is not the first time he has been involved in controversy involving the officials.
In 2017, when he was just 18 years old, he was disqualified from a Davis Cup tie against Great Britain for angrily hitting a ball which struck umpire Arnaud Gabas, who suffered a fractured eye socket. Shapovalov was also fined by the International Tennis Federation, though he later revealed that he and Gabas had become “friends” afterwards.
“You started the clock like 45 seconds ago and he [Nadal] is not ready to play,” he said. “You started the clock like so long ago and he is still not ready to play.”
The ATP recently warned tennis players they face stricter punishments for on-court behaviour in light of a string of unsporting incidents.
Alexander Zverev was expelled from the Mexican Open for striking the umpire’s chair with his racket, almost hitting the official, while Nick Kyrgios has come under fire for a number of racket smashes – including one which nearly hit a ball-boy.
i has contacted the ATP for comment.