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Foul-mouthed tirades as Fognini survives five-set, two-day epic

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Melbourne (AFP)

Italian firebrand Fabio Fognini came through an intense five-set epic at the Australian Open Tuesday in a match overshadowed by expletive-laden rants at the umpire, who was slammed as "pathetic".

The 12th seed was two sets down when his first round clash against giant American Reilly Opelka was halted by rain on Monday.

They returned under blue skies on Tuesday when Fognini emerged a 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) winner.

But it was a niggly affair with no love lost between the players.

When Opelka felt Fognini got away with time-wasting and not being penalised for throwing his racquet, he confronted umpire Carlos Bernardes.

"Let me ask you something, real quick," an incensed Opelka said, before aiming a volley of swear words at the official.

"You're pathetic. You give me one warning after one throw. He's thrown his three or four times, bro," he added.

Fognini, who lost his temper several times on Monday, also had a meltdown at the umpire, ranting in Italian and gesturing with his hands.

He reportedly told Bernardes: "You're not fit for this."

Asked afterwards whether ranting at the umpire helped him let off steam, Opelka told AFP: "No, not at all. It hurts me.

"It's a negative emotion, especially against a guy like him. You want to keep him out of the match as much as possible.

"You don't want to engage with a guy like that. It's definitely not a positive thing."

The ugly scenes came a day after feisty Canadian Denis Shapovalov verbally abused an umpire in his first round defeat by Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

The umpire gave the world number 13 a code violation for throwing his racquet and it didn't go down well.

"I'm not breaking any rules," he shouted at the official. "It's my racquet, I can do whatever the hell I want with it.

"If I broke it, give me a code, 100 percent. I didn't break my racquet. It was a terrible call, do your job."

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