Rafael Nadal fires back over John McEnroe’s criticism at US Open

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Rafael Nadal had some unfinished business after his first-round win at the US Open.

The four-time champ at Flushing Meadows was asked about recent comments made by ESPN analyst and tennis legend John McEnroe after the Spaniard’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Aussie Rinky Hijikata on Tuesday night.

McEnroe has long been critical of the umpire’s treatment of Nadal when it comes to the shot clock in between serves, believing preferential treatment is being given to the star.

“I think it’s a joke, you know,” Nadal said when asked if he thought the insinuations by McEnroe would affect his legacy. “I went through a lot of warnings through my tennis career. Never for breaking a racket, 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.”

Nadal argued that due to COVID the ballboys no longer hand towels directly to the players, and the process of picking one up from the “farthest place” can be time consuming. Players have 25 seconds between points to serve.

Rafael Nadal celebrates during the US Open on Aug. 30, 2022.
USA TODAY Sports
John McEnroe umpiring during a US Open charity event on Aug, 24, 2022.
John McEnroe umpiring during a US Open charity event on Aug, 24, 2022.
AP

“The problem for players like me, who are sweating that much, when you go to pick up a towel you are going to be in trouble with the time,” Nadal said. “I don’t think I have a different treatment for the umpires.”

It is unclear if McEnroe said Nadal’s treatment during Tuesday’s first-round match. However, it has been an issue in the past for the outspoken analyst.

“If you are going to do it, do it, otherwise don’t bother. It is like humoring everyone,” McEnroe said on the EuroSport broadcast during Nadal’s run to his 14th French Open title in June. “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?”

Nadal is going for his fifth US Open title and is on an incredible run in the Grand Slams this season. He won the Australian Open and French Open, and was forced out of Wimbledon with an abdominal injury after reaching the semifinals. He faces Italian Fabio Fognini in the second round, but it sounds like he may meet up with McEnroe first.

Rafael Nadal beat Rinky Hijikata in four sets in the first round of the US Open.
Rafael Nadal beat Rinky Hijikata in four sets in the first round of the US Open.
Larry Marano

“If I am having more than 25 seconds I receive a warning every single time. Check the clock…. I don’t understand why John can say that on the TV, but I am going to have a chat with him later,” Nadal said.

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