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Rafael Nadal Beats Denis Shapovalov Amid Charge of Favoritism

  • January 25, 2022

Asked at a post-match news conference if Nadal received preferential treatment, Shapovalov answered “100 percent he does” and said there needed to be boundaries.

“Every other match that I have played, the pace has been so quick because the refs have been on the clock after every single point,” Shapovalov said. “This one, I mean, after the first two sets it was like an hour and a half just because he’s dragged out so much after every single point. He’s given so much time in between sets and all this.”

Players are allowed 25 seconds between points when serving but chair umpires have discretion on when to start the shot clock. When returning serve, players are expected to play to the server’s “reasonable pace,” a phrase in the tennis rule book that leaves plenty of room for interpretation.

“I respect everything that Rafa has done and I think he’s an unbelievable player,” Shapovalov said. “But there’s got to be some boundaries, some rules set. It’s just so frustrating as a player. You feel like you’re not just playing against the player; you’re playing against the umpires, you’re playing against so much more. It’s difficult. I mean, it was a big break after the fourth set and for this reason the momentum just goes away.”

“They are legends of the game,” Shapovalov said of stars like Nadal, “but when you step on the court it should be equal.”

Bernardes, a veteran chair umpire from Brazil, did give Nadal a time violation for taking too long before serving in the fourth set. Bernardes and Nadal have not always been in agreement, and Bernardes was kept from working Nadal’s matches during a cooling-off period in 2015. But that informal ban soon ended.

Nadal rejected Shapovalov’s accusations of favoritism and said it was standard practice to take a bit more time to change clothes and equipment after a set played in such steamy conditions.

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