Rafa Nadal fires back at ugly John McEnroe drama: 'It's a joke'

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
John McEnroe (pictured left) during Wimbledon broadcast and (pictured right) Rafa Nadal perplexed at a question during a US Open press conference.
John McEnroe (pictured left) was dragged into the criticism of Rafa Nadal (pictured right) as the Spaniard hit back at accusations he has received special treatment from umpires throughout his career. (Images: Getty Images/Eurosport)

A reporter has left Rafa Nadal baffled after questioning whether 23-time grand slam champ receives special treatment from umpires when it comes to pushing the time limit between serves.

Earlier this year, tennis great John McEnroe criticised umpires for not cracking down on Nadal at the French Open and claimed officials needed to hold the Spaniard accountable when it came to shot clock violations.

AMAZING: Nadal's stunning act of class after Aussie scare at US Open

'VERY SAD': Novak Djokovic's shock announcement during US Open

McEnroe claimed umpires should take a harder stance and penalise Nadal if he repeatedly exceeds the 25 second shot clock.

The ruling was introduced to speed up time between points and to give players a clear indication of when they are expected to serve.

Tennis greats such as Nadal and Novak Djokovic historically took time between serves, before the clock was introduced.

However, Nadal wouldn't have expected to be questioned about the ruling after a gruelling first round US Open win against Aussie Rinky Hijikata.

A reporter dragged McEnroe into the fold and questioned if Nadal thinks his tennis legacy will be impacted by the criticism.

"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.

John McEnroe calls out Rafa Nadal over shot clock

During Roland Garros, the American legend said there's no point having the shot clock if it isn't going to be enforced properly.

"He should be penalised," McEnroe said of Nadal.

"If you are going to do it, do it, otherwise don't bother. It is like humouring everyone.

"It's a joke! He takes a look at the clock again… one. He’s edging it, isn’t he? Shouldn’t they have it at 15 seconds on the second serve? 10? Something?

"Or don’t bother. It’s like, you can take as much time as you want on the second serve. How long is this game? 12 minutes? Jeez."

Rafael Nadal (pictured) fist-pumps and smiles as he celebrates his US Open first round victory over Rinky Hijikata.
Rafael Nadal (pictured) celebrates his US Open first round victory over Aussie Rinky Hijikata. (Photo by COREY SIPKIN / AFP)

Despite the criticism, Nadal admitted he was 'nervous' before his first round US Open match against Aussie Hijikata having not played in New York for three years.

Hijikata broke an out-of-sorts Nadal in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead, before holding on to claim the opening set in stunning scenes.

The 21-year-old roared with delight and threw his arms in the air on a number of occasions, with the centre court crowd in New York getting behind the massive Aussie underdog.

However, Nadal roared back to win on Arthur Ashe Stadium in four sets.

The Spaniard showed his respect to the World No.198 and joined the crowd in giving the Aussie a standing ovation upon leaving the court.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.