Nadal criticises delay in punishing Fognini

Fabio Fognini returning during his loss to fellow Italian Stefano Travaglia. The organisers waited days for a translation of his slurs against the umpire before throwing him out of the US Open.
Fabio Fognini returning during his loss to fellow Italian Stefano Travaglia. The organisers waited days for a translation of his slurs against the umpire before throwing him out of the US Open.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

NEW YORK • Rafael Nadal insisted on Saturday that tennis chiefs were wrong to wait three days before kicking Fabio Fognini out of the US Open for a vile, sexist tirade at a female umpire.

The 30-year-old Fognini aimed two ugly misogynistic blasts at umpire Louise Engzell, as he crashed to defeat in a first-round singles match against fellow Italian Stefano Travaglia on Wednesday.

However, Fognini, with compatriot Simone Bolelli, won two rounds of men's doubles on Thursday and Friday before the Grand Slam board defaulted him on Saturday. Fognini, the world No. 26, had already been fined US$24,000 (S$32,600) for the incident.

Tennis chiefs explained the delay in making a decision on a possible suspension on having to wait for a translation of the player's remarks.

"It takes four days for that translation? I don't think so. Easy to find," said world No. 1 Nadal after making the fourth round on Saturday.

"Of course it is not a positive thing. Of course if you are not doing the right things on the court, of course you need to be in some way affected, no?

"If they want to suspend him, will be much better to do it immediately, not three days later or four days later."

India's Rohan Bopanna, who had lost in the second round of the doubles to the Italian pair alongside partner Pablo Cuevas, also hit out at the organisers.

"If a player is under investigation, as a tournament you do not schedule his match till a decision has been taken," he tweeted.

"It's (the) career of all the individuals who (are involved). Which (the US Open) clearly do not care about."

A tournament statement said that Fognini had been provisionally suspended. As a result, his and Bolelli's third-round doubles opponents, Nicholas Monroe and John-Patrick Smith, were given a walkover into the quarter-finals.

Fognini has a controversial history over his on-court behaviour and was handed a record fine of US$27,500 at Wimbledon in 2014.

"I apologise to the fans, to the referee for what happened," he wrote in Italian on Twitter.

"It was just a very bad day, but it did not forgive my behaviour in the match.

"Although I'm a hot-head (and though I've been right in most circumstances) I was wrong. But in the end it's only a tennis match."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2017, with the headline 'Nadal criticises delay in punishing Fognini'. Print Edition | Subscribe