If it’s a day ending in “y” and there’s a tennis tournament going on somewhere in the world, Fabio Fognini is probably in the middle of a controversy. And, true to form, Fognini was at it again on Wednesday, barking at chair umpire Carlos Bernardes after a season-ending loss to a young Frenchman, causing Bernardes to briefly refuse to shake the hand of the combustable Italian.
What was Fognini angry about? As usual, it was a slight of his own creation. He held set point at 7-6 in the second-set tiebreak on Lucas Pouille, a 20-year-old ranked No. 176 in the world. Pouille responded with an ace that clearly bounced inside both lines. Fognini sarcastically gave a thumbs up afterward, presumably because he thought the ball was in, but who really knows with him. When Pouille hit a winner at 7-7 to get match point, Fognini responded by throwing his racket to the ground and barking at Bernardes. Fognini double-faulted and Pouille had the biggest win of his young career.
Fognini gave a typically curt handshake to Pouille, then renewed his complaint to Bernardes, making wild gesticulations as he went in for a handshake. Bernardes initially spurned it, then shook the hand of Pouille, before resuming his one-sided conversation with Fognini.
Fognini was fined $2,000 last month for giving fans in China the middle finger after a loss. That was one-seventh of the $14,810 check he took home for his first-round loss. He lost one-fourth of his Wimbledon winnings when he earned a $27,500 fine for obscenities, racket abuse and arguing with a tournament official. There was another fine at Wimbledon in 2013, a conduct violation at the U.S. Open, another warning at the Australian Open and a racket abuse fine at the French Open. He completed the Grand Slam of tantrums.
And why wouldn’t he? If the ATP continues to give him slaps on the wrist ($2,000?) for conduct violations, there’s no impetus for Fognini to curb his bad behavior. Fabio Fognini is out of control and the longer the ATP lets him get away with the little stuff, it raises the possibility of a bigger blowup in the future.