Rafael Nadal has fired a parting shot at Ashleigh Barty, reminding the tennis world where Australia's world No.1 stands in the grand slam pecking order.
Despite her status, the French Open champion played only one of her four Wimbledon matches on Centre Court this year, sparking complaints of sexism among fans, as well as some players.
Barty was even shunted to Court 2, the third-ranked court at the All England Club, for two rounds - including Monday's loss to American Alison Riske.
The thrilling Barty-Riske three-setter lasted only eight minutes less than Nadal's straight-sets drubbing of Joao Sousa, prompting a journalist to ask the Spaniard if the more competitive women's encounter featuring the world No.1 might have been better off staged on Centre Court instead of his mismatch.
"I am the world No. 2 and I won 18 grand slams," Nadal said.
Grilled on whether that meant no to the initial question, Nadal said: "My answer is not no or yes."
"My answer is they make a decision. You are putting Ashleigh Barty in front of me. For me, both decisions are good.
"In the world of tennis today, honestly, my feeling is today I am little bit more than Ashleigh Barty, even if Ashleigh Barty is the first player of the world and she already won in the French Open and she is playing unbelievable good.
"But we can't create polemics every single day about decisions that they have to take. At the end of the day they have to make a decision.
"A day like today, everybody is playing, of course Djokovic is not playing in the Centre Court.
"For me the first day I have been playing in the Court 1. I played in Suzanne Lenglen in Roland Garros, if I'm not wrong, in the second round.
"Every day is a decision. We cannot create polemics about that.
"Court No. 2, okay, they have to make decisions. Today they probably decided that. They have another girls playing on the Centre Court now."
Barty takes the high ground
Barty typically wasn't fussed about where she played on, sticking to her party line that all courts at Wimbledon were beautiful.
"Scheduling is out of my control," she said.
"I'll play on any court I'm scheduled on."
However a number of journos and fans weren’t impressed with Nadal’s comments.
Nadal was asked about this:— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 8, 2019
"In the world of tennis today, honestly, my feeling is today I am little bit more than Ashleigh Barty, even if Ashleigh Barty is the first player of the world and she already won in the French Open and she is playing unbelievable good."#Wimbledon
Rafael Nadal through 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 over Joao Sousa in a snoozer match that, once again, #Wimbledon probably shouldn't have put on Centre Court, especially with strong women's options (like Barty-Riske, Halep-Gauff) available.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 8, 2019
That is quite arrogant from him. And shows a lack of respect for womens' tennis which should not be underestimated.— Eletto (@MatteoDaRe) July 8, 2019
So Herald since your looking for something to write about here is a top player that actually took a hit at Barty. Cause Nadal clearly put Barty in her place so leave Serena alone no story there pic.twitter.com/t5a8swYvgY— Faith Natunga (@FNatunga) July 8, 2019
Also yes Nadal is number 2 and has 18 grand slams while Barty *only* has 1 grand slam. But does that give him the right to disrespect her ?— Jade Goffin 💍 (@dimirevs) July 8, 2019