Canadian tennis star Denis Shapovalov has called for the sport to take a tougher stance against hecklers in the crowd after he was goaded by a spectator at the Italian Open on Monday.
During the second set of his 7-6 3-6 6-3 victory against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in Rome, Shapovalov was handed a point penalty after he crossed the net to show the umpire a ball marking on the court.
The incident prompted boos to ring around the stadium, and Shapovalov briefly broke off his remonstrations with the umpire to shout “shut the f**k up” towards a fan.
“He was just telling me to get off the court, get out of there, waving me off the court. Trying to obviously get under my skin or whatnot,” Shapovalov told a press conference according to Reuters.
“I think the umpire just needs to keep an eye on it if a player mentions something.
“The reason why (the heckler) didn’t get kicked out was because (the umpire) told me he didn’t see what happened. That’s very understandable. I feel like he kept an eye on him after that. It didn’t bother me after that.”
Shapovalov, who will face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the next round of the Italian Open, later apologized to the umpire for losing his cool.
He added that tennis could be stricter towards hecklers and take a similar approach to the NBA.
“They’re pretty strict, the security and everything, that (fans) don’t cross the line. If they do, they’re kicked out right away,” Shapovalov said.