A fuming Denis Shapovalov slammed Rafael Nadal for receiving preferential time treatment after losing to the Spanish great in an epic quarter-final at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Shapovalov labelled chair umpire Carlos Bernardes “corrupt” during the match for not enforcing a penalty on the meticulous Nadal, whose ultra-finicky routine between points often pushes the 25-second serve clock to the limit.
But the 22-year-old Canadian later backtracked on his accusation, acknowledging it was wrong and that he “misspoke” during the 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 defeat.
Shapovalov, however, stuck to his guns on “how much Rafa is getting away with” and believed the Spaniard deserved a time violation.
“I mean, I think I misspoke when I said (the umpire’s) corrupt or whatever I said. It’s definitely emotional but I do stand by my side. I think it’s unfair how much Rafa is getting away with,” said Shapovalov.
“I’m completely ready to play and the clock is ticking, clicking towards zero, and 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.
“To me, it’s a big joke if somebody says that.”
Shapovalov also said he was not allowed to take a toilet break after the fourth set when he asked for one.
“He (Nadal) had already taken two medicals. He was getting medically evaluated, and after the evaluation the guy goes and takes a toilet break,” he said.
“It’s like, where is the line? Where are you going to step on the players and say, okay?
“I respect everything that Rafa has done and I think he’s an unbelievable player. But there’s got to be some boundaries, some rules set.
“It’s just so frustrating, you feel like you’re not just playing against the player, you’re playing against the umpires, you’re playing against so much more.”
Asked by reporters if he thought Nadal gets preferential treatment because of his status in the game as a 20-time Grand Slam champion, Shapovalov was unrepentant.
“Of course. 100 percent he does,” he fumed.
“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.
“This one, he’s given so much time in between sets and all this. It’s just dragged out. I mean, it’s just not balanced.”