Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Fabio Fognini and his Italian compatriot Salvatore Caruso separated by security after meeting in five sets

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Fiery Italy’s Fabio Fognini and compatriot Salavatore Caruso had to be separated by security following Fognini’s five-set victory, with the duo clashing in an ugly exchange after a disagreement arose during the handshake.

Fognini came back 5-1 in the 10-point tiebreaker in the last set to trap what appeared to be an improbable victory 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-3 7-6 but the scenes immediately after the game almost spilled over.

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As the players walked towards each other, Caruso began to gesture with his hands in an animated fashion. The two stood up and argued, separated by the net after shaking hands.

The exchange continued as the Italians left the field to join their respective seats with world No.17 Fognini marching alongside Caruso to further plead his case before returning to his seat to pack his bags.

However, when Caruso passed his rival as he exited John Cain Arena, he continued to chirp, which saw Fognini step down from his chair. Security then moved to separate the players, with Caruso walking away before bowing to the crowd on the way out.

Italian tennis journalists translated the exchange on Twitter, with the beef coming from Fognini constantly telling Caruso that he was “lucky” in Italian during the match when he earned points.

Speaking to reporters at his post-match press conference, Caruso declined to explain the details of his conversation with Fognini.

“I mean, we just had different opinions, and yeah, I think it’s something that should stay in the locker room, and I’m going to talk to him because we’re friends,” he said.

“So we just have different opinions and we’ll talk about that in the next few days. But don’t ask me more because I won’t say more.”

Fognini was also reluctant to discuss the incident during his post-match press conference, confirming that the two were close friends and that they would work things out between them.

“We are good friends, and you know me better than what happened on the court, because I am staying on the pitch,” he said. “I have nothing more to say on this issue.

“I was lucky too. It doesn’t matter what you asked me before because that kind of thing sometimes happens on the court.

“Do you understand my words or not? So can you change the question, please?”

The clash came as a surprise to most viewers who had previously seen Fognini jump the net to check on his compatriot Italian after Caruso suffered what appeared to be a twisted ankle.

Fognini jumps to the net to check his compatriot

The 28-year-old fell to the ground in Game 6 of the final set with a foot problem and there was genuine concern that he might have to withdraw from the game.

Fognini immediately made it to the other side of the pitch and Caruso was helped off the pitch moments later.

He returned ten minutes after his second medical time out and did not appear to be bothered by the injury.

Caruso, who was seen gesturing to coach Paolo Cannova constantly throughout the game, may have been frustrated with several wasted opportunities.

He blew up a 0-30 5-4 lead in the fifth set, with a string of over-cooked forehands that left his compatriot Italian off.

It was Caruso who came out most dominant in the best of the 10-point tie-break, winning five points in a row with a double mini break, to let Fognini come back and give up the next five in a row.

This turned out to be the decisive swing, which ultimately led to Fognini’s decisive 14-12 victory in the deciding game until the last quarter.

The victory sets up a clash with Australian Alex de Minaur in the next round.

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