Malevolent rants mark Fognini's epic return to the Australian Open

MELBOURNE: Italian fire brand Fabio Fognini came through an intense five-set epic in the Australian Open On Tuesday in a match overshadowed by rains loaded with expletives against the referee, who was criticized as pathetic.

The twelfth seed had two sets when its first showdown against the American giant Reilly Opelka He was stopped by the rain on Monday.

They returned under blue skies on Tuesday when Fognini emerged a winner 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) but with an injured hand after hitting his racket angry.

The injury was testimony to a strange matter without love lost among the players.

When Opelka felt that Fognini was getting away with wasting his time and not being penalized for throwing his racket, he faced referee Carlos Bernardes.

Let me ask you something, very fast, said a furious Opelka, before pointing out a discharge of bad words to the official.

You are pathetic. You give me a warning after a release. He has thrown his three or four times, brother, he added.

Fognini, who lost his temper several times on Monday, also had strong words for the referee, ranting in Italian and gesturing with his hands, apparently for a violation of time.

He reportedly told Bernardes: You are not fit for this.

When asked later, Fognini, who had an unpleasant red mark on the knuckles on the racket's hand, did not want to stop at angry exchanges.

It was not my problem, he said, preferring to focus on his return, who saw him resist 35 aces of the 6-foot-11 inch (211 cm) Opelka.

I was lucky that it rained at the right time. Yesterday he was playing better than me, he added. This type of player is probably one of the worst first round matches. Really difficult.

When asked if the red mark was a burn, Fognini replied: Okay, I hit the racket. Yes (it hurt) a little. Especially this finger, he added, pointing to his right index finger.

Opelka admitted that his tirade with the referee did not help his case against the Italian hothead.

Not at all. It hurts, he said. It's a negative emotion, especially against a guy like him. You want to keep it out of the game as much as possible.

You don't want to get involved with such a guy. It is definitely not a positive thing.

The ugly scenes came a day after the Canadian fighter Denis Shapovalov verbally abused an arbitrator in his first round of defeat against the Hungarian Marton Fucsovics .

The world number 13 turned against the officer when he received a code violation for throwing his racket.

I'm not breaking any rules, he shouted. It's my racket, I can do what I want with it.

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