Transcript as Rafael Nadal hits back at ‘joke’ claims he abuses clock rule, wants to ‘chat’ with John McEnroe

Rafael Nadal talks to the media

Rafael Nadal brushed aside suggestions that “there are different rules for him than there are for everybody else” when it comes to the serve clock following fresh criticism from John McEnroe.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner has been known to take his time during points and, during his ESPN commentary stint for Nadal’s US Open first-round clash against Rinky Hijikata, seven-time major champion McEnroe again raised the issue.

The American felt Nadal was abusing the 25-second rule and the Spaniard was asked about it after his 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Australian Hijikata.

Q: During the past Grand Slam tournaments, some commentators have been criticising you about the fact that you are not obeying the serve clock rule. John McEnroe has been pointing this out.

Nadal: Can you say again? Criticise what?

Q: You have not been following the serve clock rule. There is 25 seconds to serve. John McEnroe has been pointing out you are not following that rule. It seems like the umpires are not enforcing the rule in your case. My question is, do you think it leaves some kind of a shadow to your otherwise excellent legacy? It seems like there are different rules for Rafael Nadal than there are for everybody else.

Nadal: (Laughs). Yeah, I think it’s a joke. I went through a lot of warnings during my tennis career. Never for breaking a racket, 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, [it is the] biggest problem today, that is we don’t have the ballboys bringing the towel to you for the last couple of years. You have to go to the farthest place of the court to take the towel.The problem for players like me that am sweating that much, you know when you go to pick up the towel, you are going to be in trouble with the time. So I am not going very often. I don’t think I have a different treatment from the umpires at all.

Q: Just because you are sweating a lot, there should be a different rule for you?
Nadal: I never said that. I am following the rules. If I am having more than 25 seconds, I receive a warning every single time. If not, check the clock.

Q: Thank you for answering.
Nadal: I don’t think I’m receiving a different treatment at all. I don’t understand why John can say that on the TV. But I am going to have a chat with him later (smiling).

It is not the first time that Nadal has come under fire over the issue as at this year’s Australian Open Denis Shapovalov was outraged and described the perceived time-wasting as a “big joke”.

“I’ve been ready to play for a minute and a half and he tells me he’s not going to give him a code violation because I’m not ready to play. To me, it’s a big joke,” the Canadian told the chair umpire.

McEnroe himself then also described the failure from officials to punish Nadal as “a joke”.

“If you are going to do it, do it, otherwise don’t bother. It is like humouring everyone,” he said during a Eurosport commentary stint.

“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.”