Andy Murray was left seething with the chair umpire over a bad call that cost him a point during his Italian Open loss to rival Fabio Fognini in the first round. Murray and Fognini have history on the tennis court with the pair entering into a war-of-words at the net during a Shanghai Masters clash in 2019.
Both would have been desperate to one-up each other in their opening clash at Rome with their head-to-head all square, but the Italian prevailed against Murray 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in a dramatic encounter. Fognini took the early initiative in the match having gone 4-2 up in the first set as Murray squandered three break points.
This would have incensed Murray, but he became absolutely infuriated when Fognini hit a winner when it appeared he hit the ball long with the scores at 4-3. Murray was left baffled the ball was called in and asked the chair umpire, Mohamed Lahyani, to check the mark and overrule the decision.
Murray pinpointed the ball mark and hawkeye showed the ball had landed out. However, clay doesn't use hawkeye and the chair umpire didn't agree with the Murray that the ball mark was accurate.
The three-time grand slam winner was enraged and pleaded his case. "How can you see that ball from there being in? How is it possible," Murray asked Lahyani in disbelief.
"You can see the clay is still there. You can see the ball mark," Murray said as the chair umpire pointed at what he was seeing. The commentators both agreed the ball looked out on the initial viewing.
"You know you've got that wrong," Murray said as he followed the chair umpire back to his seat. The crowd started to jeer Murray during his anger, which cost the Scot a 5-3 lead in the set.
Fans claimed Murray was 'robbed' of a vital point in the first set in what was described as a 'howler' from the chair umpire.
— Jamie Murray (@jamie_murray) May 10, 2023
This is actually ridiculous
— andy metal hip murray (@MuzzaNation) May 10, 2023
That's possibly the most ridiculous call I've ever seen.
— Retro Martin Allan (@RetroBrothers) May 10, 2023
It's a truly shocking call from the umpire, even without Hawkeye it's miles out
— Joe Ridings (@Ridings4Joe) May 10, 2023
Was expecting fireworks in the Murray Vs Fognini match but between them not the umpire. Lahyani in big fight with Murray over a line call.
— Stevegtennis.com 🎾🏆💯🤎 (@stevegtennis) May 10, 2023
— Heidi 💎 (@8yorkshire) May 10, 2023
Andy Murray knocked out of Italian Open
While Murray lost the first set after the setback, he fought back in the second as Fognini's level dropped. Murray raced out to a 5-1 lead, before Fognini fought back to scare the 35-year-old. However, Murray held his nerves and served out the set.
The deciding set saw Murray fade in front of the Italian crowd as Fognini produced his best shot-making of the match. The Italian wildcard sealed the match with an ace.
"For sure I’m happy because coming back from injury is never easy, especially at our age. But winning here in Rome against a really big player like Andy, I mean I’m happy,” Fognini said in his post-match interview.
"Now it’s important to recover and let’s see how I recover and I wake up tomorrow because it’s going to be tricky and a nice question to my mind if I will recover well. But I just want to enjoy this night and going home with this victory.”
Fognini was coming back from injury after 10 days on crutches following the tournament in Estoril. “These kind of matches give me a lot of emotions and really good memories," Fognini added.
The Italian will now face Miomir Kecmanovic in the next round. Murray will now most likely turn his attention to the French Open later this month. The Scot admitted he will then turn his attention to Wimbledon where he believes he can make a big push for a third title.
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