On Wednesday, Fabio Fognini lost in four sets to countryman Stefano Travaglia in the first round of the U.S. Open. However, what remained from this match was not the upset in itself, but yet another vile attack towards an umpire by the bad-tempered player.

The Italian is known for overdoing it (and that is an understatement) at times during matches. This time, the victim was Louise Engzell and the rant had Fogna call her, among other names, “whore” and “cocksucker”. The insults were voiced in Italian, but very little time elapsed for the video (and translations) to be all over the social media.

On Friday, it was announced that Fognini had been fined a total of $24,000 USD for his diatribe, among other reasons.

However, we had to wait until Saturday for a bigger action to be taken. Nearly clandestinely (as there is no account of it anywhere but from the media present at the event), the tournament announced that the Italian had been defaulted from the event. Furthermore, the release stated that further enquiry was under way in order to determine “whether a Major Offense has been committed” during the match against Travaglia.

Should he be convicted, Fognini can get a fine up to $250,000 USD and even be banned for life from playing Grand Slams.

Why wait so long to default Fognini?

So far, so good. However, the question remains whole: why wait so long to default Fabio Fognini? He was already in the third round of doubles, which deprived an alternate team of entering the draw, and two teams had already lost.

World number one Rafa Nadal agreed when questioned about it:

“It is true that things can be made to happen earlier because I believe that he played two matches after that match, two doubles matches. If they want to suspend him, it will be much better to do it immediately, not three days later or four days later, because then he was here playing for a few days. Now he is out already winning two matches. I think it is not the ideal situation. Probably something that will go immediately to check it, and if he deserve a suspension, he take it, and if he don’t deserve, don’t take it.”

Could it be because the Board wanted to translate what he said? Nadal denied: “It takes four days for that translation? I don’t think so. Easy to find.” Impossible to disagree with that stance, either. A translation could have been made minutes after the incident.

Doubles players were also skeptical as to the timing of the whole process. For instance, Rohan Bopanna, part of the team who were defeated by Bolelli and Fognini in the second round, does not agree:


That second option, default right away or wait until the end of the tournament, is also the option Julian Knowle thought about:


Regardless of the way it should have happened, the tournament has, once again, dropped the ball in an extremely serious case. Nevertheless, it is about time that Fognini paid a heavier price for his actions. After all, misogynist insults have no place in our society and his conduct has often been faulty.

An apology, but…

After the default announcement, the Italian posted a message on Twitter to (sort of) apologise for his conduct. However, never did the message mention Louise Engzell and contrary to what he wrote, it is not “just a tennis match”.


This is yet another reason why bigger action should be taken against him.