Andy Murray’s happy return to tennis wouldn’t have been complete without some trademark stink-faced kvetching—mostly at himself, but occasionally at his opponent when the situation warrants. Few opponents deserve a good kvetch in the face like Fabio Fognini, Murray’s matchup in the second round of the Shanghai Masters. Fognini, a racket genius with a dumpster mouth and enigmatic brain, is an irritant to many; he also happens to be the No. 12 player in the world, meaning this was nearly the best win of Murray’s post-surgery comeback. Despite two chances to serve out the match in the third set, the Scot lost a hot one, 7-6(4), 2-6, 7-6(2). Down the stretch, the beef sizzled on the grill.
One point late in the third had the players riled up. Right as Murray prepared to complete an easy putaway, Fognini burped up some distracting sounds that are presumably not Italian for “Nice volley, chief.” Already in the wrong for his diversion tactic, Fognini apparently had some additional words for Murray, who was baffled.
Murray would win that game with a neat passing shot. In the changeover, the players lit into each other. Murray, who told Fognini “you do the same in every match doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” was compelled to make his case to umpire Fergus Murphy.
“Fergus, listen. This guy. So what happened. When I have a volley on top of the net, he shouts—[at Fognini] shut up!—when I have a volley on top of the net, he shouts, and then tells me ‘don’t look at me.’ I’m like, you just shouted in the middle of a point,” said Murray, offering his side of the events. It’s harder to make out Fognini’s testimony on the broadcast, though his wild gesticulation adds some nice color. Murray and Murphy’s joint advice to Fognini—“shut up” and “but just less”—was useful, if not well-taken.
Fognini broke back in the very next game and took the tiebreak too to win it. Handshake analysis is always crucial after a match like this.
Tight, terse, finger-dominant, very little palm-to-palm contact. That’s a beef, all right.