Nadal responds to ‘joke’ claims after US Open win
OREANDA-NEWS Tennis legend Rafael Nadal has vowed to speak to John McEnroe after the American accused him of getting preferential treatment from umpires on the ATP men's tour.
Suffering a blip in the first set, Nadal began his quest for a fifth US Open title by beating 21-year-old wildcard rookie Rinky Hijikata 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 in the opening round on Tuesday.
McEnroe, himself a four-time men's singles winner at Flushing Meadows, has made the accusation of preferential treatment for Nadal on commentary duties, suggesting the Spaniard was given extra time for his notoriously lengthy service routine.
The issue came up as Nadal was questioned about the remarks at his post-match press conference in New York.
"I think it’s a joke," the Spaniard responded.
"I went through a lot of warnings in my tennis career. Never for breaking the racquet... but yes for the time clock.
"I have a problem that I am sweating a lot, and when you are playing a game during these very humid conditions, we have the biggest problem today," Nadal explained.
"We don’t have the ballboys bringing the towel to you, so you have to go to the farthest place on the court.
"For players like me, I am sweating that much. You know when you go to pick up the towel you’re going to be in trouble with the time, so I’m not going very often.
"I don’t think I have different treatment from the umpires at all. I don’t think I am receiving different treatment at all. I don’t understand why John can say that on the TV," Nadal protested, before vowing: "I’m going to have a chat [with] him later."
Playing in only his second match since having to pull out of the Wimbledon semifinals with a painful abdominal injury, doubts that Nadal had previously voiced about being up to the standards of the US Open appeared to proving true when Nadal lost the first set to his younger foe.
Hijikata had the crowd behind him when mounting a valiant display, but any hopes of pulling off a historical upset quickly faded after Nadal sorted his act out and blew Hijikata away in the next three sets.
"I started not that bad the first couple of games, but then I had some opportunities that I was not able to make," Nadal also noted after the action.
"I didn't play a good game with my serve. Then he had the break. Then I was a little bit nervous," he admitted.
"[It was my] first match here in New York after three years, night session, it's always exciting. Yeah, I went through this tough moment," noted Nadal, who notched nine aces across his victory.
"[It was my] second match in 50 days more or less. In some way [it] was not the day to play perfect. [It] is a day to just [get] the job done, and that's what I did."
With title victories at the Australian Open and French Open already in 2022, which allowed him to pull ahead of Novak Djokovic (21) and Roger Federer (20) with 22 major tournament triumphs, Nadal extended his unbeaten run in Grand Slams this year with his latest win.
Furthermore, he also seems to be growing in confidence again after withdrawing from a final four meeting at SW19 against Nick Kyrgios, who went on to lose the final against Djokovic.
"You need to be humble enough to go through this process and accept that you need to fight and you need to accept that you going to suffer," he said, reiterating a popular stance in Spanish sports and one that is especially taken by his favorite football club Real Madrid in the Champions League.
"That's what I did today," he concluded.
With the second round matches beginning on Wednesday, Nadal is next in action on Thursday when he has a date booked with Italy's Fabio Fognini.