Tempers flared at the All England Club on Friday as Feliciano Lopez had a heated argument with Fabio Fognini’s coach, Jose Perlas, on court following the Spaniard’s five-set victory.
The 22nd-seeded Lopez came back from two sets down to beat Fognini 3-6, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in a rain-interrupted second round and left the court fuming and yelling at Perlas, who allegedly insulted the Spaniard during the match.
“There’s nothing wrong between me and Fabio, it’s just that his coach, all of a sudden, when I won the third set, he just said something to me, in Spanish, something very rude. I don’t know why,” a stunned Lopez said after his win.
“And as I told him ‘this never happened to me in 20 years that the coach of my opponent insulted me during the match’. Never ever in my life, so I don’t know why. That’s it. And then I was telling Fabio that this shouldn’t be possible. ‘What’s wrong with your coach that he is going that way to me all of a sudden?’ Because nothing happened between me and Fabio?”
Lopez actually believes his anger at Perlas, a former coach of Spaniard Carlos Moya, is what spurred him to complete his comeback and secure a third round meeting with No15 seed Nick Kyrgios.
“I was very disappointed and I was so pissed and I think that thing, motivated me a lot in order to come back because I was so pissed and I was full of energy when this happened,” said the 34-year-old Lopez.
Fognini refused to comment on the situation when asked by reporters in both English and Spanish.
Lopez’s public argument with Perlas comes on the heels of Viktor Troicki’s epic meltdown the day before as he growled at umpire Damiano Torella over what the Serb believes was a wrong call.
It appears the difficult weather that has plagued the tournament so far has sent everyone into a state of stress with even reporters getting testy with Kyrgios following his difficult five-set win over Dustin Brown.
In a match that was scheduled at 11:00am and finished just before 19:00 due to multiple rain delays, Kyrgios stayed the course to overcome the flamboyant and unorthodox Brown 6-7(3), 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
The last rain interruption saw the pair leave Court No2 locked at 3-3 in the final set, with Kyrgios holding a break point on the Brown serve.
“Not easy,” Kyrgios said on having to go back to the locker room while having a break point.
“Obviously however long I was in the locker room, hour, hour and a half after the rain delay, that’s all I’m thinking about really. All the guys in the locker room watching my match gave me a bit of stick about where is he going to serve? All this stuff. I was like, I don’t really want to think about it that much.
“It was tough. I knew what he was going to do. He was going to serve and volley. I just didn’t know where he was going to serve. Then he came up with a ridiculous volley. On the inside I was fuming, but on the outside I had to stay composed.”
Kyrgios received a code violation for verbal abuse in the third set and was questioned about his behaviour in the post-match press conference.
“I thought my behavior was really good throughout the match,” said the 21-year-old Aussie.
“Obviously went a little bit off track towards the third. At the same time, I thought it was okay, to be honest. The crowd was loving it. I’m sure a lot of people around the world were watching that match. That’s what sport is. It’s entertainment, isn’t it?”
He then had a back and forth at the end of the press conference with a couple of journalists who claimed he had sworn at the umpire – which Kyrgios had not done.
“What did I say to the umpire today?” Kyrgios asked the reporter. “You got a code violation, didn’t you?” replied the journalist.
“Not for swearing at him,” Kyrgios fired back.
Reporter: “You said he did a horrendous job.”
Kyrgios: “Is that bad language? Have you never said a swear word before? Have you never said a swear word in your life?
Kyrgios: “Can you answer my question?”
Kyrgios: “So you’ve never sworn in your life?”
Reporter: “It’s your job to answer mine.”
Kyrgios: “No, it’s not. He actually asked me the question. It’s his question, mate (pointing to another reporter). It’s his question.”
The conversation ended soon after.
Kyrgios admits dealing with a long day of rain delays was difficult and he’ll return to the court on Saturday for his third round with Lopez.
“It’s tough. I feel really tired right now,” he said Friday night.
“I mean, to be scheduled at 11:00, and actually finish the match, I don’t know, like 20 minutes ago, it’s tough. Credit to both of us (himself and Brown) for still being able to play pretty well.”
For a five-set match, Kyrgios only spent two hours and five minutes in action on court against Brown, with both players known for their swift pace, and barely any long rallies contested between them.
Having gone through a tough four-setter against Radek Stepanek in the opening round, and a tight five-setter against Brown, Kyrgios has another difficult affair ahead of him against Lopez, who is a three-time quarter-finalist at Wimbledon.
“It’s one of the toughest (draws I’ve had),” said Kyrgios.
“I think Feli has one of the best serves on tour. Radek and Dustin both are some of the best grass court players there are. No one wants to play them. I’m taking confidence out of these wins. I’m not nearly playing any of my best tennis yet as well, which is also a positive. I’m finding ways to win these matches.”
On his part, Lopez is bracing himself for a difficult affair against a player who made the quarters here on his debut two years ago, beating Rafael Nadal en route.
“It’s a very tough match. I think he’s one of the best players now in the game,” Lopez said of Kyrgios.