Rafael Nadal had some unfinished business after his first-round win at the US Open.
The four-time champion at Flushing Meadows was asked about recent comments made by ESPN analyst and tennis legend John McEnroe after the Spaniard’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Aussie Rinky Hijikata on tuesday night
McEnroe has long criticized the referee’s treatment of Nadal when it comes to the shot clock between goals, believing that preferential treatment is given to the star.
“I think it’s a joke, you know,” Nadal said when asked if he thought McEnroe’s insinuations would affect his legacy. “I’ve been through a lot of warnings throughout my tennis career. Never for breaking a racket, but yes for the clock. I have a problem with sweating a lot. When you play in these very humid conditions.”
Nadal argued that because of COVID, the ballmen no longer give towels directly to the players, and the process of taking one from the “farthest place” can be time-consuming. Players have 25 seconds between points to serve.
“The problem for players like me, who sweat so much, when you go to get a towel, you’re going to have problems over time,” Nadal said. “I don’t think I have a different treatment for the referees.”
It is unclear whether McEnroe criticized Nadal’s treatment during Tuesday’s first-round match. However, it has been a problem in the past for the outspoken analyst.
“If you’re going to do it, do it, otherwise don’t bother. It’s like everybody’s humor,” McEnroe said on the EuroSport broadcast during Nadal’s run to his 14th French Open title in June. “It’s a joke! He looks at the clock again… one. He edged it, didn’t he? Shouldn’t they have it at 15 seconds on the second serving? 10? Something?”
Nadal is going for his fifth US Open title and is on an incredible run in the Grand Slam this season. He won the Australian Open and French Open, and was forced out of Wimbledon with an abdominal injury after reaching the semifinals. He faces Italian Fabio Fognini in the second round, but it looks like he might meet McEnroe first.
“If I have more than 25 seconds, I get a warning every time. Check the clock… I don’t understand why John can say that on TV, but I’ll talk to him later,” Nadal said.