When Fabio Fognini booked a third round clash with Alex de Minaur on Thursday night, all anyone could talk about was the fiery aftermath to his clash with compatriot Salvatore Caruso.
The two Italians appeared to almost come to blows after Fognini's drama-charged 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-3 7-6 (14-12) victory.
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The ugly post-match exchange lit up social media, with fans and commentators engrossed in a verbal slanging match in Italian that few fans at Melbourne Park would have been able to understand.
The Italian compatriots traded insults at John Cain Arena after their epic match, which went to a fifth set tiebreaker and clocked in at almost four hours.
Fognini and Caruso started exchanging words after meeting at the net, before things escalated into finger-pointing and shouting.
The angry exchange in Italian lasted about two minutes and continued even when Caruso attempted to leave for the locker-room.
Fognini reportedly attacked Caruso for being “f***ing lucky” after edging his countryman in the second-round marathon.
The pair eventually had to be separated by an official with no end in sight to their ugly spat.
Incredibly though, the on-court interviewer failed to even question Fognini about the extraordinary drama that had the tennis world captivated.
“Salvatore was fighting every point ... it was up and down, I was lucky," Fognini said without making any reference to the wild spat.
“That kind of match especially against someone from your own country, are always tough. He gave his all till the end,” he added.
Without even digging into what all the drama was about the interviewer added: “At the end of the day, Fabio, you’ve played a great match.
“Sometimes these matches can help you going forward in the tournament — you go back, you dig deep. Either way, you’re into the third round, you should feel really good about yourself. Congratulations.”
Viewers were gobsmacked when Fognini finished the interview without even touching on the incident on everyone's lips.
OMG the interviewer in the post-match must have missed all the drama in this match.
Completely ignored it.#HowDoYouFeel
— Stephanie Myles (@OpenCourt) February 11, 2021
— Tennis Fanalyst (@TennisFanalyst) February 11, 2021
How does the on-court interviewer not ask about the all-Italian post-match spat between Fabio Fognini and Salvatore Caruso?! Unbelievable scenes. #AusOpen
— Marc McGowan 🗣✍️👨🏻💻📰 (@ByMarcMcGowan) February 11, 2021
Interesting choice from the on-court interviewer to end with: 'You should feel really good about yourself.'
(a) It's Fognini, of course he does
(b) ... Really?
(c) Why would you not ask about the colourful discussion with Caruso at the end?
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) February 11, 2021
Fognini plays down altercation in press conference
Fognini was finally asked about the incident during his post-match press conference but the 33-year-old was in no mood to talk about it.
“Italian, English, it’s not important,” Fognini, while trying to brush off questioning, said.
“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.”
Fognini has racked up a long list of fines during his controversial 17-year professional career, but he was left bristling when a reporter twice tried to get to the bottom of the argument.
“I just told you. I mean I am really happy of course because I think I was not playing my best tennis today,” he said.
“I had more chances than him in the fifth but that’s the sport. I was lucky too.
“It’s not important what you’re asking me because this kind of thing happens.”
“Do you understand my words or not?” Fognini said. “So can you please change questions.
“Next question, thankyou.”
The 16th seed next faces 21st seed De Minaur on Saturday after the Aussie waltzed into the third round with a 6-3 6-3 7-5 win over Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas on Thursday night.
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