Fabio Fognini and Salvatore Caruso traded angry words at the end of their incredible five-set thriller as the battle between the Italians turned nasty.
Fognini came back from 1-5 down in the fifth set tiebreak to claim it 14-12 and bring the three hour and 56-minute war to an end as he advanced to the third round of the Australian Open.
The fifth set alone went for 85 minutes and there was no love lost between the pair after Fognini celebrated his 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-3 7-6 victory.
They argued with each other at the net and even after Caruso had taken his seat, Fognini went over and continued berate his countryman.
The players wagged their fingers and gestured angrily at each other as their argument lasted for several minutes.
The two had to be physically separated by the supervisor as Caruso collected his gear and made his way off the court, tensions threatening to boil over in a feud that stunned the tennis world.
According to tennis journalist Luca Fiorino, Caruso was upset when Fognini, allegedly unprovoked, called him “lucky” — though with an expletive or two thrown in.
“Fognini: ‘You were lucky (in Italian he used a colourful expression)! Apologise to me’ referring to some balls on the line,” Fiorino tweeted.
“Caruso: ‘What are you saying? I never said a word during all the match. I just didn’t expect it from you’.”
Twitter fan Stefano Berlincioni backed up that version of events.
“Caruso said to Fabio that he didn’t say a word all match long,” he tweeted. “Fabio replied ‘Can’t I say that you were being f***ing lucky?’
“Was mostly about that, Salvo was disappointed that Fabio kept saying during match he was so lucky.
“Salvo went away saying, ‘I don’t expect that from you’.”
A full transcript of the clash was later posted on social media.