Denis Shapovalov overcame a point penalty and a hostile crowd to beat local hope Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 in the men’s singles first round of the Italian Open 2022. (More Tennis News)
Late in the second set, Shapovalov was given a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct after hopping over the net to show the chair umpire a mark on his opponent's side of the red clay court — which is not permitted.
The umpire determined that Shapovalov's serve was out, resulting in a double fault and a breakpoint for Sonego. Then with the code violation, Shapovalov lost the game to trail 5-3.
“A lot of things happened in the heat of the moment. I need to be better with my behavior,” Shapovalov said. “It was my mistake. I'll know the rule for next time. I definitely won't step over the net.” Even after stepping over the net, Shapovalov wasn't done arguing.
The 13th-seeded Canadian then called the chair umpire onto his side of the court and singled out a fan who was heckling him. “I'm not going to kick him out because I didn't see what he was doing,” the umpire said.
“I saw you talking to him and you incited it a little bit. I understand you're frustrated.” After the match, Shapovalov apologized to the umpire. Shapovalov reached the semifinals in Rome two years ago, while Sonego made the last four last year.
Sonego said he was penalized by a decision in the first set when the umpire came down to check a mark and made an overrule, awarding the point to Shapovalov when the Italian thought the point should have been replayed.
There was also a questionable overrule in the third set. “Things like that shouldn't happen,” Sonego said. “They should use video replay. That could be a big help for the umpire.” Video review was used for calling lines at last week's Madrid Open. But there is no such system in place in Rome.
Despite the vociferous fans, Shapovalov said he generally enjoys playing in Rome. “The fans love me here and I love the fans,” he said. “Even after the match, there were a lot of people standing, waiting for pictures, stuff like that.
“I'm super excited to play another match — not against an Italian.” Shapovalov will next face Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, who beat Daniel Evans 7-6 (2), 6-2. Also, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka rallied past Reilly Opelka, also a semifinalist last year, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Wawrinka recently returned to the tour after undergoing two foot surgeries last year. Dominic Thiem, another former top-five player returning from injury, was beaten by Italian veteran Fabio Fognini 6-4, 7-6 (5). Fognini could play fellow Italian Jannik Sinner next — if Sinner gets by Pedro Martinez on Tuesday.
“He's our future star,” Fognini said of Sinner. Other winners included Pablo Carreno Busta, Karen Khachanov, Jenson Brooksby, Tommy Paul and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Botic van de Zandschulp, a recent finalist in Munich, eliminated Sebastian Korda 6-4, 6-1.
In the women's tournament, 2020 champion Simona Halep beat Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-4; Victoria Azarenka defeated Viktorija Golubic 6-3, 6-0; and Coco Gauff eliminated Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-4. Kerber, who was formerly ranked No. 1, has lost six straight matches.
Ukrainian player Anhelina Kalinina extended her strong recent form by beating Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4. Carlos Alcaraz and Naomi Osaka both withdrew from the tournament. Alcaraz pulled out because of a right ankle injury following his victory at the Madrid Open. Osaka cited a left Achilles heel injury.