Hot-headed Fognini fears an Australian ban

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Fabio Fognini was booted from the US Open. AFP

MILAN (AFP) – Hot-headed Italian tennis star Fabio Fognini said he would accept an Australian Open ban after being kicked out of the US Open for a sexist tirade at a female umpire.

The 30-year-old insulted Swedish umpire Louise Engzell after his first-round singles defeat against fellow Italian Stefano Travaglia.

Fognini, the world number 26, who is married to 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, had already been fined $24,000 for the incident.

But he fears he could now face a ban from the first Grand Slam of next season in Melbourne.

“Should the Grand Slam Board decide to ban me from the next Australian Open, I will accept the decision, because actions have consequences, and I need to pay for what I did,” Fognini told Italian Sky Sports TV.

“I am aware of the severity of my mistake, I take full responsibility for it. A decision will be made, and I’ll move on, I’ll turn the page, with this stain on my shoulder that will never go away.”

Fognini has a controversial history of on-court behaviour and was handed a record fine of $27,500 at Wimbledon in 2014. But he insisted his Flushing Meadows meltdown would be his last.

“There won’t be a next time,” he said.

“I know what came out of my mouth, I can’t take it back, but I know I won’t do it again.”

“I know this is a character fault of mine. I’m already working with a mental trainer, and I thought that we were on the right track, so I can’t really explain this slip-up.

“I have nothing against women, I have been called sexist, which I am not. I am a family man, I have a wife, a mother, a sister: I have always loved women, I have always respected them, and therefore I am very sorry for what I said.”

Fognini said Pennetta, with whom he has a three-month-old son Federico, had been very supportive.

“Flavia is sorry for the player Fabio, because she knows how hard I work and how much I sacrifice for my career,” he continued. “But she knows I am not like that in everyday life, and that’s what’s important.

“When Federico grows up I’ll tell him that I was disqualified because I behaved badly on court. I wasn’t a good example for kids, for those who may see me as an idol, since I am the best-ranked Italian player, and this hurts even more.

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