Canada’s Denis Shapovalov has doubled down on his suggestion Rafael Nadal receives preferential treatment from officials.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion eliminated Shapovalov in a see-sawing five-set Australian Open quarter final, edging out the 22-year-old 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3.
Frustrated after dropping the first set, Shapovalov took issue with Nadal’s slow pace of play and the perceived inaction of chair umpire Carlos Bernardes.
“He’s not ready to play. Are you kidding me? You guys are all corrupt, you guys are all corrupt,” Shapovalov told Bernardes at the start of the second set.
Shapovalov was able to rally, aided by a stomach complaint to Nadal, seeing him win the third and fourth sets before the Spaniard hit back to claim the decisive fifth frame.
After the match, Shapovalov elaborated on his complaint to reporters.
“I’m completely ready to play and the clock is ticking towards zero, I’m looking at the ump and obviously I’m going to speak up and say something, 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,” Shapovalov said.
“It’s a big joke. Last year I wasn’t allowed to take a toilet break when I asked for a medical [timeout], he had already taken two medicals, he was getting medically evaluated after the fourth set, that’s what the ump said, and after the evaluation the guy goes and takes a toilet break.
“It’s just like, where’s the line? Where are you gonna step on the players? I respect everything that Rafa’s done… but there’s got to be some boundaries, some rules set.
“It’s so frustrating as a player, you feel like you’re not just playing against the player, you’re playing against the umpire, you’re playing against so much more.”
When asked to clarify whether he thinks Nadal is given favours by the officials, Shapovalov was emphatic.
“100 per cent he does [get preferential treatment],” he added.
“Every other match I’ve played, the pace has been so quick because the refs have been on the clock after every single point and this one after the first two sets it was an hour and a half just because it’s dragged out so much after every single point, he’s given so much time.”
Shapovalov did however slightly walk back his comments questioning Bernardes’ integrity.
“I think I misspoke when I said that he’s corrupt or whatever, it’s definitely emotional but I do stand by my side,” he said.
“I think that it’s unfair how much Rafa is getting away with.”
Nadal’s quest for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam now continues, while Shapovalov is left to rue missed opportunities.
“It just sucks to lose that one. I definitely felt like I had it on my racquet,” he said.
“Third, fourth and fifth set I felt like I was the better player, I had more chances, just one bad game for me.
“It definitely sucks but a good tournament for me overall.”