Friday 19 January 2018

'It's nothing personal' - Rafa Nadal reveals request to ban umpire from his French Open games

Rafael Nadal of Spain reflects during his Men's Singles match against Quentin Halys of France on day three of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros
Rafael Nadal of Spain reflects during his Men's Singles match against Quentin Halys of France on day three of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros

Tom Allnutt

Rafael Nadal has requested not to be officiated at the French Open by umpire Carlos Bernardes after the pair fell out during the Rio Open in February.

Bernardes handed Nadal two time violations for exceeding the 25-second limit between points and the Spaniard was visibly frustrated as he went on to lose to Italian Fabio Fognini in Brazil.

The nine-time French Open champion, who had wanted to change his shorts after putting them on the wrong way round, complained about Bernardes to the ATP, which runs the men's tour, and has not been officiated by the Brazilian umpire since.

"Yes, it was my request," Nadal said.

"I asked if it's possible, but nothing personal against him 100 per cent, I respect him as an umpire, I respect him as a person, and I consider him a good person.

"I am not happy with that situation, that's the first thing, because I would love to have Bernardes on the court again.

"It will happen, but I think for both of us it is better to have a break.

"We had some problems. For me he was not respectful enough with me in Rio de Janeiro.

"That was my feeling when I put my shorts the other way."

Nadal added: "I think it does not show respect because I cannot play a full game with the shorts the other way.

"So it's better to be away for a while. That's all."

Nadal cruised through the first round at Roland Garros on Tuesday with a 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory over French wildcard Quentin Halys.

He will now play fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in round two.

Nadal is bidding to win his 10th title in 11 attempts at Roland Garros but the Spaniard is considered more vulnerable this year, following his worst ever build-up to the tournament.

There was little to concern the nine-time champion on Philippe Chatrier court, however, as Nadal won in one hour and 50 minutes.

After dropping to number seven in the world rankings, Nadal is seeded to face top seed Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals before a potential last four match-up with Britain's Andy Murray.

It means there will certainly be tougher tests to come than Halys, who is ranked 296th in the world and was playing his first match in the main draw of a grand slam.

Nadal, however, will take confidence from an accomplished performance in which the 28-year-old unleashed a number of signature forehands and looked physically at ease throughout.

The Frenchman gave home fans several moments to cheer in the latter stages with a number of audacious forehands but Nadal broke again before sealing a comfortable victory.

Nadal was generous with his praise of Halys, saying: "Quentin is the future, the new style of game he has, trying to hit winners from everywhere - that is the way tennis is moving now.

"Playing at Roland Garros and on centre court for the first time is not easy, so I wish him all the best."

Press Association

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