During the first round of the 2023 Italian Open, “hot heads” Andy Murray and Fabio Fognini faced each other in a dramatic match that saw heated moments. This was their first encounter on the ATP Tour since their controversial clash at the 2019 Shanghai Masters, where Murray had told Fognini to “shut up” during an on-court argument.
Chaotic argument over point
At the Foro Italico on Wednesday, chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani found himself in the middle of the drama during the first set. A lob from Fognini was called in by a line judge, but Murray disagreed with the call. Lahyani then came to check the point and ultimately agreed with the line judge, which added fuel to the already heated exchange.
“It’s a little bit on the line here. The linesman called it good, there’s a little bit there, there’s a little bit white here, it’s just touching it,” the chair official said.
Murray refused to accept it and shouted: “Mate, you can see the ball mark there. Mohamed, look. How can you see that ball from there being in? How is it possible? You’re trying to make a mark now.”
The argument continued while those in the stands booed loudly.
In addition, his brother Jamie Murray was dissatisfied with the chair umpire's ruling and advocated for the introduction of Electronic Line Calling Live (ELC) as soon as possible. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) had announced in May that ELC will become mandatory at all tournaments starting from 2025.
Murray calls out Italian crowd
Although Fognini won the match 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in less than three hours, Murray was still upset about what happened during the match.
The three-time Grand Slam winner hit out at the crowd and Lahyani, replying to an Instagram post: “Stadium full of Italians booing and whistling, thinking I’m trying to cheat Fabio out of point all because Mo [Mohamed Lahyani] couldn’t read a mark properly. Cheers mate.”
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