Shapovalov swears at crowd before surviving Italian Open opener against Sonego

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ROME — Canada's Denis Shapovalov survived a testy opening match Monday at the Italian Open tennis tournament that saw him swear at the fans after arguing a call with the chair umpire.

Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., won the marathon match 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 win over Italy's Lorenzo Sonego in just under three hours 11 minutes.

Later Monday, Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., moved on to the women's second round with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over 14th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Shapovalov was down 3-4 in the second set when he crossed the net to check a ball mark on Sonego’s side of the court and was given a code violation.

The 13th-seeded Shapovalov then called chair umpire Richard Haigh onto his side of the court and singled out a fan who was heckling him.

“I’m not going to kick him out because I didn’t see what he was doing,” Haigh said. “I saw you talking to him and you incited it a little bit. I understand you’re frustrated.”

As they argued the fans started to boo, prompting Shapovalov to yell "shut the (expletive) up!"

Shapovalov apologized to Haigh after wrapping up the win.

“A lot of things happened in the heat of the moment. I need to be better with my behaviour,” Shapovalov said. “It was my mistake. I’ll know the rule for next time. I definitely won’t step over the net.”

Shapovalov reached the semifinals in Rome two years ago, while Sonego made the last four last year.

Sonego said he was penalized by a decision in the first set when the umpire came down to check a mark and made an overrule, awarding the point to Shapovalov when the Italian thought the point should have been replayed.

There was also a questionable overrule in the third set.

"Things like that shouldn’t happen," Sonego said. "They should use video replay. That could be a big help for the umpire."

Video review was used for calling lines at last week’s Madrid Open. But there is no such system in place in Rome.

Despite the vociferous fans, Shapovalov said he generally enjoys playing in Rome.

"The fans love me here and I love the fans," he said. “Even after the match, there were a lot of people standing, waiting for pictures, stuff like that.

"I'm super excited to play another match — not against an Italian."

Shapovalov will face Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round on Tuesday.

Fernandez rallied from a set down to improve her career record against Pavlyuchenkova to 2-0.

The Canadian struggled in the first set, where she was broken three times on five chances and won just 40.7 per cent of service points.

Fernandez rallied in the second, converting three of her six break point chances and winning 58.6 per cent of total points.

She completed the win with her best set of the match. Fernandez converted both of her break points and won 62.8 per cent of total points in the third.

Fernandez will next face Daria Kasatkina.

Pavlyuchenkova was playing just her second match since the Australian Open. She lost against Sara Sorribes Tormo in Madrid last week after missing 10 weeks with a knee injury.

Men's eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal was scheduled to face Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., was set to take on 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu of Britain on Tuesday.

— With files from The Associated Press.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2022.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: Fixes typo in second paragraph ("from" not "form")

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