Wed, 18 May 2022

Denis Shapovalov launched into a verbal attack on the booing crowd in Rome

Hot-headed Canadian tennis star Denis Shapovalov was hit with a penalty after a furious rant at the crowd during his first-round match against home favorite Lorenzo Sonego at the Italian Open.

Taking issue with a line call on his serve during a tight second-set battle, Shapovalov angrily remonstrated with umpire Richard Haigh before continuing his exchange with the match supervisor at the side of the court.

The Canadian crossed onto his opponent's side of the net to show officials the mark which he believed indicated that his disputed serve had landed in - something prohibited under the rules of the game.

"Denis, listen, because you crossed the net you're going to get another code violation. You can't cross the net," said Haigh.

"No way! Come on I was just showing you the mark. Call the supervisor that's bullsh*t! That's so unfair," argued Shapovalov, who had already been warned for his conduct during an earlier incident.

The crowd booed the 23-year-old incessantly during the row, prompting to Shapovalov to turn around and scream "shut the f**k up," earning himself a point penalty.

WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE 

The shocking scenes came during the second set of the meeting in Rome as Shapovalov was leading the match 7-6(4) 3-4.

The Canadian went on to drop the second set but bounced back in the third to win 7-6 (5) 3-6 6-3, setting up a second-round meeting with Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Shapovalov also lobbied unsuccessfully to get a spectator kicked out of the stands for supposedly heckling him, although umpire Haigh declined to take action as he was unsure of what the player had seen or heard.

"He was just telling me to get off the court, get out of there, waving me off the court, trying to obviously get under my skin or whatnot," Shapovalov later explained at a press conference.

"I think the umpire just needs to keep an eye on it if a player mentions something.

"The reason why [the heckler] didn't get kicked out was because [the umpire] told me he didn't see what happened. That's very understandable. I feel like he kept an eye on him after that. It didn't bother me after that.

"I think in the NBA there's a lot of hecklers and stuff like that. They're pretty strict, the security and everything, that [the fans] don't cross the line. If they do, they're kicked out right away," added Shapovalov.

Despite his outburst, Shapovalov claimed he was on good terms with fans in Italy.

"Obviously, I think it's a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. I just need to improve with handling myself about that," said the Canadian.

"But in terms of going forward, I've played in Rome a lot of times. The fans love me here and I love the fans... Even after the match, there were a lot of people standing, waiting for pictures, stuff like that.

"I do really appreciate the sport and the love I get here. I'm super excited to play another match - not against an Italian," joked the world number 16.

Shapovalov already has a reputation as one of tennis' biggest hotheads.

He infamously struck umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye with a ball which he had blasted away in anger during a Davis Cup tie against Great Britain back in 2017.

Shapovalov was defaulted for the incident and fined $7,000, while Gabas needed surgery after suffering a fractured eye socket.

As recently as January, Shapovalov made headlines after accusing match umpire Carlos Bernardes of being "corrupt" for supposedly allowing Rafael Nadal to get away with slow play during their Australian Open quarterfinal.

Shapovalov later apologized for the comments, but stood by his claims that some players get preferential treatment because of their status. 

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