Canada’s Denis Shapovalov bested hometown favourite Lorenzo Sonego in the first round of the Italian Open on Monday, and the contentious match saw the Canadian swear at fans and argue vehemently with the umpire.
Shapovalov, 23, was assessed a code violation late in the second set for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Richmond Hill native jumped over the net to show the umpire the mark his ball left on Sonego’s side — a series of events that are not allowed.
The umpire ultimately ruled that Shapovalov’s serve was out, shifting momentum in favour of Sonego. Along with the code violation, the young Canadian lost the game to trail 5-3.
Later in the match, the 13th-seeded Shapovalov exhorted chair umpire Richard Haigh to kick out a fan that had been heckling him throughout the game. Much to Shapovalov’s chagrin, however, his notion was dismissed once again, as Haigh said that “I saw you talking to him and you incited it a little bit.”
“I’m not going to kick him out because I didn’t see what he was doing,” Haigh explained to Shapovalov. “I saw you talking to him and you incited it a little bit. I understand you’re frustrated.”
As the two continued to debate the decision, boos began to cascade from the fans, causing the 23-year-old to exclaim, “shut the (expletive) up!”
— Sasha Alcaraz (@tennistipsy) May 9, 2022
Shapovalov ended up winning the hostile match 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3, in just under three hours and 11 minutes. He has also since apologized to Haigh for his behaviour, lamenting that he was in the heat of the moment and that he will be more cognizant of the rule for future matches.
“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.”
Despite the acrimonious interactions with the fans, Shapovalov says that he enjoys playing in Rome, just not when he’s pitted against an Italian.
“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 reached the semifinals in Rome two years ago. He will face Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round of the tournament on Tuesday.
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