Time out prompts a question from Tennys about Fabio’s rules

              Tunisia's Ons Jabeur celebrates after defeating China's Wang Qiang in their fourth round singles match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Things got heated during Tennys Sandgren’s fourth-round win over No. 12 Fabio Fognini at the Australian Open on Sunday, when the Italian player took a bathroom break after losing the first set.

It rubbed Sandgren the wrong way. It got more frustrating for the American when Fognini, after being docked a point for wasting time after dropping his opening service game in the second set, called immediately for a medical time out to treat blisters on his fingers.

While his opponent was otherwise occupied in the locker room, Sandgren asked chair umpire Damien Dumusois to explain why Fognini was allowed to take a break after the usual time between sets had lapsed.

“There are still rules. He doesn’t just get new rules because he’s Fabio, or does he?” Sandgren asked. Dumusois said he’d consulted with Grand Slam supervisor Gerry Armstrong, who’d given it the OK.

“Just because Gerry says it’s OK, doesn’t mean it’s within the rules of tennis. It means subjectively, Gerry says ‘sure, you can go to the bathroom now,’ to make sure he doesn’t break all his rackets and walk off the court.”

Armstrong was called onto court soon after, to adjudicate on the medical time out. After waiting through two extended breaks, Sandgren went on a roll and took a 4-0 lead. Then Fognini, now fired up himself, won five straight games before Sandgren regained his composure.

The pair traded glares and verbal barbs, but in the end they hugged, with Fognini running around to Sandgren’s side of the net to congratulate him on the 7-6 (5), 7-5, 6-7 (2), 6-4 win.

The 100th-ranked Sandgren is into the quarterfinals for the second time in three years in Australia and next faces Roger Federer, who has won six titles at Melbourne Park among his 20 majors. He’ll have to put the testy match against Fognini behind him quickly.

“It just seemed like we were dragging on for no real reason. I would have liked to have seen the ref be a little more forceful for what the times actually were,” Sandgren explained later. “I was just trying to keep my composure and stay focused. Yeah, sometimes I can mouth off a little bit as far as speaking my mind as a way to vent. I was getting a little frustrated as to why we weren’t playing yet. I used that time to vent.”

Fognini later said he no regrets about the fourth-round loss. He was fined $2,500 in a heated opener against American Reilly Opelka, when he came back from two sets down to win in five and acknowledged later he spoke improperly to chair umpire Carlos Bernardes.