Denis Shapovalov didn’t hold his tongue when, after his loss to Rafa Nadal in the Australian Open quarter-finals, chair umpire Carlos Bernades was asked about his complaints., due to the excessive time that, according to the Canadian, the Spaniard took before serving and subtracting, and due to his going to the bathroom, the second during the match, after the fourth set. Before starting to speak, the 22-year-old apologized in his own way for what he had said to the referee: “I think I expressed myself wrong when I said that he (Bernardes) is corrupt or whatever he said. It was definitely an emotional thing, but I think it’s unfair how much Rafa gets away with it.”
“I was completely ready to play and the clock was 3, 2, 1, down to zero, and looking at the referee. Obviously, she had to talk to him and say something. He had a minute and a half ready to play and he tells me that he is not going to give him a time violation because I am not ready. For me, it was a big joke”, explained Shapovalov, who did not understand Nadal’s second visit to the service. “And then after the fourth set, the guy tells me that nothing happens for the same reason why last year it was not I was allowed to take a bathroom break when I requested a medical exam. He had already ordered two. He was being medically evaluated, that’s what the referee said after the fourth set. And after the evaluation, he goes and takes a bathroom break. Where is the limit?”.
The heart of a lion 🦁
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The tournament’s 14th seed expressed his frustration at what he understood had happened: “I respect everything Rafa has done and I think he’s an amazing player. But there have to be some limits, some set rules. It’s so frustrating as a player… You feel like you’re not only playing against the opponent, but also against the referees. against much more. It was a long break after the fourth set, and so the momentum just wears off. It’s much harder to play, I think. Again, without trying to say anything against Rafa, he is a great player. He really respects everything he has done. But I think it’s super difficult and super frustrating as an athlete to deal with all of this.” For Shapovalov, the top players receive preferential treatment from the judges: “Of course. 100%. In other matches I have played, the pace has been very fast because the referees have been attentive after each point. He has given him a lot of time between serves and all this. How can you be medically evaluated and have a bathroom break at the same time, and cause so much delay in the game? It’s not balanced.”
The public and the Big Three
Denis said that the second discussion he had with Bernardes “was nothing against Rafa.” “He was getting ready to serve, with a watch right there, as a referee you should be looking at him. But the guy is staring at me, so I looked at him like, ‘Why are you looking at me?’ Rafael was confused. He just asked me what happened. There was no problem.” Finally, the Tel Aviv-born tennis player spoke of the preferential treatment that the public also gives to the members of the Big Three, Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. “I respect and appreciate everything they have done. But it can’t be that there are people cheering them on between the first and second serves. Out of respect for all players, it shouldn’t be happening. A tennis fan should understand, both players are trying hard. Why do they clap between the first and second serves? By themselves they are very difficult to beat, but if you give them more advantages, more advantages, then it becomes much more difficult each time. They are great champions, they are legends of the game. But at the end of the day when you step on the pitch there should be equality for everyone.”