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 in Rome.
The Canadian 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.”
WATCH | Shapovalov engages in shouting match with fans:
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,” said Shapovalov, who will face Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round on Tuesday. “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.
WATCH | Shapovalov beats Sonego in 3-plus hours:
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.”
Later Monday, Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., faced 14th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a first-round women’s match.
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.
Alcaraz withdraws from Italian Open
Fresh off his victory at the Madrid Open, Carlos Alcaraz withdrew from the Italian Open on Monday because of a right ankle injury.
The Spanish teen beat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic back-to-back in Madrid then defeated Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final for his tour-leading fourth title of the year.
Alcaraz hurt his ankle during the quarter-final win over Nadal.
Rome organizers said Alcaraz’s place in the Rome draw would be taken by Finnish player Emil Ruusuvuori, who will open against Cristian Garin in the second round. Alcaraz, who was seeded seventh at the Foro Italico, had a first-round bye.
Alcaraz will be chasing his first Grand Slam title at the French Open, which starts in less than two weeks.
Osaka out with Achilles injury
Naomi Osaka is out of the Italian Open to rest a sore left Achilles.
Osaka was injured at the Madrid Open during a first-round victory and said Monday morning she hasn’t healed.
Osaka lost her second-round match in Madrid to Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, who was slated to be Osaka’s first-round opponent in Rome.
Nuria Parrizas Diaz of Spain replaces Osaka in the Italian Open.
Osaka said she is focused on being ready for the French Open, which begins May 15.
Djokovic’s 2nd home
Five-time Italian Open champion Novak Djokovic calls Rome his “second home.”
“In terms of support that I’ve been getting, in terms of the sensation I have every time I come back here. I think speaking a little bit of Italian helps connect with people,” the top-ranked Serb said. “Italian mentality is close to Serbian mentality in terms of passion, emotions. So it’s always a joy for me to come back.”
Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in last year’s Rome final, said his game is coming back after missing a large portion of the season because of his refusal to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Djokovic lost to Alcaraz in a third-set tiebreaker in the Madrid semifinals on Saturday.
“It’s closer to desired level every week,” Djokovic said. “Even after [an] almost 3 1/2-hour battle against Alcaraz, I recovered well the next day, was ready to go. That’s a positive and encouraging factor prior to Rome and also, of course, the big goal, which is Paris.”
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