Denis Shapovalov overcomes code violation for win at Italian Open

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 first round of the Italian Open.

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 break point for Sonego. Then with the code violation, Shapovalov lost the game to trail 5-3.

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“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 apologised to the umpire.

Shapovalov reached the semi-finals in Rome two years ago, while Sonego made the last four last year.

Sonego said he was penalised 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 enjoyed 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 enjoyed his first win in nearly 1 ½ years by rallying 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.

Other winners included Karan Khachanov, Jenson Brooksby 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, and Victoria Azarenka defeat Viktorija Golubic 6-3, 6-0.

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