Italian hot-head Fabio Fognini was less than thrilled with surviving an Australian Open epic, attacking Salvatore Caruso for being “f—ing lucky” after edging his countryman in a second-round marathon.
Tensions boiled over as world No.17 Fognini and Caruso traded insults in John Cain Arena after the match which went to a fifth set tiebreaker and clocked in at almost four hours.
The theatrical exchange in Italian lasted about two minutes and continued even when Caruso attempted to leave for the locker-room on Thursday night.
However, the pair’s words were quickly translated to English and revealed how Carusohad taken offence to Fognini describing his performance – which produced a 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-3 7-6 (14-12) scoreline – as full of lucky shots.
The 33-year-old was hesitant to speak about the blow-up everyone around Melbourne Park was talking about in his post-match press conference.
“Italian, English, it’s not important,” Fognini said, while trying to brush off questioning.
“We’re good friends and what happens on court, stays on court.
“I am really happy, of course, because I think I was not playing my best tennis, so I had more chances than him in the fifth (set), but that’s the sport.
“I was lucky, too. It’s not important what you asked me before because these kind of things sometimes on court.”
A contrite Fognini later posted an apologetic tweet congratulating Caruso on a “remarkable couple of years”.
“I’m sorry for the way it ended. Congrats to you, Salvo,” he wrote.
The volatile Fognini has racked up a long list of fines during his 17-year professional career.
In 2019, he was docked $4300 for saying Wimbledon should be bombed during a loss to Tennys Sandgren.
But that is pocket change compared to the fine he received at the US Open for verbally abusing a female umpire in 2017.
Fognini had to cough up more than $170,000 and was given a suspended grand slam ban for using misogynistic language.