Rafa Nadal caught up in toilet break drama in crushing win over Aussie Jason Kubler

The tennis champion fell foul of the rules in his latest emphatic victory at the Brisbane International.

Rafa Nadal, pictured here at the Brisbane International.
Rafa Nadal looked rather taken aback when informed by the chair umpire that he'd taken too long. Image: Tennis TV

Rafa Nadal was back at his imperious best in a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Aussie Jason Kubler at the Brisbane International on Thursday night. However the Spanish legend didn't have things all his own way and fell foul of rules around toilet breaks after the first set.

The 22-time grand slam champion left the court after taking out the first set, but took too long to get back. Under new rules introduced to tennis in recent years, players only have five minutes for a toilet break in between sets.

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Nadal was rather taken aback when informed by the chair umpire that he'd taken too long, saying he thought he was within the five-minute window. He was subsequently hit with a time violation warning before the start of the second set, but he took it in his stride and laughed along with the crowd. "Rules are rules, you can't bend them for anybody," Wally Masur said in commentary for Channel 9.

When asked about the situation after the match, Nadal said: "I think it was something strange because I know I have five minutes. Brisbane is very humid. I had to change every single piece (of clothing), it takes a while.

"In the walkie talkie they were calling me three minutes, two minutes, one minute, half a minute, I came out at the right time. But I don't know if the guy with me said a few seconds later to the umpire that I was four seconds late.

"I thought I was on time, then he told me I was four seconds late. I am slow, I know that, and I've got to keep trying to improve in 2024."

Those in attendance and watching on TV found the situation very funny. The umpire's announcement that Nadal "was a little bit late on his way back from the toilet", as well as his post-match explanation, had fans in stitches.

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The straight-sets victory came in Nadal's second singles match since his return to the tour in Brisbane. He hadn't played since the Australian Open in January 2023, but looks to be back at his best after the 12-month absence.

The impressive display against a hapless Kubler came after he dispatched fellow grand slam champion Dominic Thiem in the first round. Kubler didn't win a single rally until midway through the fourth game as Nadal stormed through the opening set with power and precision.

Rafa Nadal, pictured here after his win over Jason Kubler at the Brisbane International.
Rafa Nadal celebrates his win over Jason Kubler at the Brisbane International. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

"It has been a very positive match for me, the chance to play a game tomorrow," Nadal said. "I started the match playing very well, with a very good determination. I saw videos of Jason before the match and I saw him play very solid from the baseline, so I came on court trying to be aggressive with my shots from the baseline and it worked very well.

"It means a lot to me - two victories after a long time being outside of the professional tour is something that makes me feel good and happy for that. I need matches. I need help. I need to keep practising. Of course, the last two matches here help, and even the doubles the first day too.

"Of course, victories and spending hours on court helps and, for me, it's every day that I have the chance to play is great news. So I'm just happy that I came back after a long time and I feel myself competitive. That's all I want, and then let's see what's going on and how far I can go for sure."

with AAP

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