Tennis sensation Rafael Nadal may receive preferential treatment from umpires, according to John McEnroe. The tennis legend made the allegation while discussing superstitions he had on the court during his playing career with Insider last month.
“I didn’t have any major superstitions,” said McEnroe. “Sometimes, I’d step on lines on odd games and not step on the same lines in deuce games, or I’d mismatch outfits on purpose because I was winning that way. It was those sort of things. I wasn’t nearly as bad as Rafa.”
The American then alluded to Nadal’s legendary serving technique, in which the Spaniard tucks his hair behind his ear, tugs his nose, and adjusts his shorts before each serves while repeatedly bouncing the ball. “Rafa has got his ritual that takes 30 seconds every time he plays a point,” he said. “If you’re that great you can get away with it.”
“That’s one of the incentives of being the best — you get away with more, as evidenced by what I did at times on the court and what he does, in a totally classier way, though. Obviously, he’s not out there screaming at people or anything.”
This is not the first time Rafael Nadal received such an allegation
However, McEnroe isn’t the first to claim that umpires give Nadal preferential treatment because of his slow style of play. After losing to Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January, Canadian Denis Shapovalov stated the 35-year-old got “100% special treatment.” After the loss, Shapovalov stated, “I think it’s unfair how much Rafa is getting away with.” During the match, he had protested twice to umpire Carlos Bernardes about how long Nadal took between points.
A shot clock timer allows players 25 seconds between points and two minutes between sets. “Every other match that I have played, the pace has been so quick because the refs have been on the clock after every single point,” said Shapovalov. “This one, after the first two sets, it was like an hour and a half just because he’s dragged out so much.”
He added: “I respect everything that Rafa has done, and I think he’s an unbelievable player. But there have got to be some boundaries, some rules set. It’s just so frustrating as a player. You feel like you’re not just playing against the player; you’re playing against the umpires, you’re playing against so much more.”