LONDON (Reuters) - Fight to the last point is the mantra drilled into aspiring champions but Italian Fabio Fognini took a different approach in his five-set defeat by Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon on Friday.
Serving to stay in the match with the situation already looking hopeless at 0-5 in the fifth set, the volatile world No.15 looked in a hurry to get off the packed outside court.
“Maybe I can play one more game, I’m in the shower,” he quipped at reporters, when asked what was going through his head in the final stages of a match in which he twice led the big-serving South African by a set.
Fognini, better-known for his claycourt prowess, did hold serve but the end was nigh as 20th seed Anderson kept his composure despite a double-fault to reach the last 16 and a match against defending champion Andy Murray.
Having been hit with three individual fines totaling $27,500 for a unsportsmanlike behavior earlier in the week, the 27-year-old soccer-loving Italian has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
In a previous match he vented his anger by smashing his racket into the court, but he avoided any more trouble on Friday by opting to take his frustration out on his own knees rather than Wimbledon’s world famous grass.
He also took a swipe at the All England Club’s strict rules.
“The only things I don’t like is the rules,” he said.
“Wimbledon’s rules. White color. Maybe if you see today I crash the rackets in my knee because maybe the court is really soft. I can damage a lot.”
Considering the rankings of the two players it was a surprise to see the match scheduled on a small outside court and Fognini was asked whether he felt he was being punished for his behavior in the first round against American Alex Kuznetsov when he abused the court and verbally abused a supervisor.
Fognini, who was in the third round of Wimbledon for the first time since 2010, called the court scheduling “strange” but said it didn’t matter to him.
“I mean, it’s strange, because in the first round with a qualifier I play on (showcourt) Court 18, and today I am 16th seed and he is 20 and we play on Court 17. But I really don’t care,” he said.
Speaking about his opponent, the affable Anderson said the match had lived up to his expectations.
“You’re not sure what you’re going to get. I guess that’s the reason we were out on I think it was Court 17 today,” he said.
Fognini’s fines will be deducted from his 71,000 pound ($120,800) third round prize money.
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Martyn Herman and Pritha Sarkar