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Fognini May Sue ATP Over Damage to His Image

By Richard Pagliaro

Bounced from Barcelona for abuse of an official, Fabio Fognini is fighting back to clear his name.

In case you missed it, the theatrical Italian was booted from the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadel on Wednesday after he argued with a linesman over a foot fault while trailing Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles, 6-0, 4-4.

More: Fognini Disqualified from Barcelona

It was the first disqualification of Fognini's career and he asserts the ATP is out of line.

Fognini is demanding an apology from the ATP and if he doesn't get one he's considering suing for "for compensation for very serious image damage."

In an interview with Gaia Piccardi for Corriere Della Sera, Fognini said the ATP got it wrong and must make it right.

The 2019 Monte-Carlo Masters champion said he has appealed the disqualification and the $5,000 fine incurred and demands an apology for damage to his reputation.

"I'm not interested in money and points," Fognini told Corriere Della Sera. "What happened stained my image, making me look like a [bad] man with my sponsors. I don't want to go through the victim but the game had to end: I had started badly, I was struggling like never before, swallowing toads.

"In Monte Carlo I had found my tennis again: I was neither nervous nor irritated. I just asked for that judge to be changed because he had made resounding mistakes. And the supervisor wouldn't let me explain. Fabio, I have to listen to him, he told me."

Fognini calls his disqualifaction "an enormous mistake" and is considering suing if the ATP does not issue an apology.

"In the circle where I have been training for ten years, where everyone knows me. Even [wife] Flavia Pennetta], who knows I didn't insult anyone, was appalled. I'm not angry, I'm disappointed.

"Iwant an apology for the enormous mistake, if my appeal is rejected I will put everything in the hands of the lawyer and ask the ATP for compensation for very serious image damage."

A couple of days after Fognini's disqualification, Babolat, his long-time racquet sponsor, issued this statement saying it does not approve of the recent behavior of the mercurial Italian and Frenchman Benoit Paire, who was booted from the French Olympic team by the FFT last week.

The world No. 28 insists he did not verbally abuse the official in Barcelona.

"The judge claims I insulted him in English. But when? I spoke Spanish, as I usually do," Fognini said. "I got away with a p.p. to mother too many, I know very well that swear words and blasphemies should not be said but now you know me, I am not perfect and not even a little angel, I do not boast of anything, in the past I have done much worse and I have taken responsibility for it, I do not pretend to be an example for anyone.

"But lies I do not tell: I am almost 34 years old, professional [player] of twenty, if I say that I have not insulted anyone [they] must believe me. And instead they preferred to listen to a gentleman to whom perhaps I was disliked and who today returns to do his job, whatever it is."

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve