Canadian Denis Shapovalov has doubled down on his suggestion that Rafael Nadal be given preferential treatment by officials.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion eliminated Shapovalov in the Australian Open quarterfinals in five sets, beating the 22-year-old 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3.
Frustrated after losing the first set, Shapovalov took issue with Nadal’s slow pace of play and chair umpire Carlos Bernardes’ perceived inaction.
“He’s not ready to play. Are you kidding me? You are all corrupt, you are all corrupt,” Shapovalov told Bernardes at the start of the second set.
Shapovalov was able to recover, aided by a stomach ailment from Nadal, and saw him win the third and fourth sets before the Spaniard struck back to claim the deciding fifth frame.
After the match, Shapovalov explained his complaint to journalists.
“I’m completely ready to play and the clock is ticking down to zero, I’m looking at the referee 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 was not allowed to go to the bathroom when I asked for a medical exam. [timeout]he had already taken two medical exams, he was being medically evaluated after the fourth set, that’s what the referee said, and after the evaluation, the guy goes and takes a bathroom break.
“It’s like, where’s the line? Where are you going to step on the players? I respect everything that Rafa has done… but there have to be some limits, some established rules.
“It’s so frustrating as a player, you feel like you’re not just playing against the player, you’re playing against the referee, you’re playing against so much more.”
Asked to clarify whether he thinks referees give Nadal favors, Shapovalov was emphatic.
“100 percent does [get preferential treatment]”, he added.
“Every other match I’ve played the pace has been so fast because the referees have been on the clock after every point and this one after the first two sets was an hour and a half just because it went on so long after. each point, it has given him a lot of time”.
However, Shapovalov backed down slightly on his comments questioning Bernardes’s integrity.
“I think I misstated myself when I said it’s corrupt or whatever, it’s definitely emotional, but I’m on my side,” he said.
“I think it’s unfair how much Rafa is getting away with it.”
Nadal’s quest for an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam now continues, while Shapovalov must mourn the missed opportunities.
“It just sucks to lose that. I definitely felt like I had it on my racket,” he said.
“Third, fourth and fifth set I felt like I was the better player, I had more chances, just a bad game for me.
“It definitely sucks, but it’s a good tournament for me overall.”