Tennis greats Kim Clijsters and Alex Corretja have blasted the drama surrounding Rafa Nadal's press conference after he was questioned on whether he feels umpires give him special treatment.
Nadal returned to New York for the first time in three years and defeated Aussie Rinky Hijikata in the first round of the grand slam.
However, a reporter opted to question Nadal on the shot clock and criticism he has faced throughout his career.
The journalist dragged tennis great John McEnroe into the fold and brought up the American's criticism of Nadal from the French Open.
McEnroe claimed umpires should take a harder stance and penalise Nadal if he repeatedly exceeds the 25 second shot clock.
Nadal laughed off the question and labelled the criticism a 'joke'.
However, other tennis greats have jumped in to defend Nadal.
Four-time grand slam open champion Clijsters reiterated Nadal's response and claimed the argument was a 'joke'.
Rafael Nadal on John McEnroe claiming he is not following the 25-second serve clock rule. Classy response 👏 pic.twitter.com/QmsZeCvyOp
— Luigi Gatto (@gigicat7_) August 31, 2022
While, former World No.2 Corretja said the line of questioning was 'poor'.
“It was a great set up for him, and about this [towel incident], even Rafa was listening to the journalist like, ‘Are you serious? You’re telling me this?’ Corretja told Eurosport.
“What I hate is when [journalists] come to you and they say ‘someone said that they said…’ Be straight.
"This is poor. You’ve got to be straight if you make a statement - ‘I heard from John McEnroe..’ I don’t like that. For sure Rafa is playing with the rules, but umpires have the clock so that’s it.”
Clijsters agreed the new rule forcing players to collect their own towels will naturally mean service games will take longer.
Rafa Nadal in bizarre press conference moment
Nadal's post-match press conference certainly took a turn when the Spaniard was questioned about his treatment.
"It seems like there are different rules for Rafael Nadal than there are for everybody else?" the reporter asked.
Nadal entertained the question and was more than willing to shut down the accusation.
"Yeah, I think it's a joke," Nadal said with a laugh.
"I went through a lot of warnings through my tennis career. Never for breaking a racquet. Never for doing a mess on court. But yes for the time clock.
"I have a problem that I am sweating a lot. When you are playing during these very humid conditions...the problem for players like me that are sweating that much, you know when you go to pick up a towel, you are going to be in trouble with the time.
"I don't think I have different treatment from the umpires."
The reporter asked if Nadal should have a different rule because he is sweating a lot, which prompted the mediator to jump in.
However, Nadal was more than happy to respond and clarified that he would speak to McEnroe about the criticism.
"I never said that," Nadal added.
"I don't think I'm receiving different treatment at all. I don't understand why John can say that on TV.
"But I am going to have a chat with him later," Nadal added with a smile.
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