After a tough, three-set loss last night to Rafael Nadal in the Sony Ericsson Open Miami quarterfinal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga unloaded on chair umpire Damian Steiner who the Frenchman says wouldn’t overrule important calls because of Nadal.
“I was complaining because all the match, you know, I’ve got to I have to challenge, and I was right, you know, many, many times,” a frustrated Tsonga said. “(Steiner) never take, you know, initiative when it’s against Rafa, you know. And you know now it’s all the time like this. All the time.
“I have to be, you know, really focused, you know, on the ball, because if the ball is out, it would never if it’s really close, he would never say out against Rafa. Always to say against me. If Rafa don’t like him anymore, I mean, he would not be in the chair many times on final and semifinal.
“So sometimes, I mean, it’s not fair. Because I have to take decision, you know, all the time. And he never take decision. He just say the score. That’s why, you know, sometimes I’m upset about it.”
Tsonga was seen several times during the match in conversation with Steiner, and he did makes challenges that went his way. But Tsonga says he shouldn’t have to always be the one taking the initiative and it’s weighing on his mind.
“It’s like a double work,” Tsonga said. “I have to watch the ball and the line and everything, and I have to play. I mean, then, you know, it come in your head and you focus on it and you don’t have to. Then, you know, I lose my concentration, you know, sometimes because of that.”
Nadal said Tsonga was correct that the chair umps overrule less these days, but Jo-Wilfried was wrong in his claims that umpires like Steiner are scared of Nadal.
“I understand sometimes the frustration on this situations,” responded Nadal. “Because that is true that the referees with the Hawk Eye are doing less overrules than before. I said hundreds of times, too, no? But is not because he’s playing against me. No, no. Happen to me a lot of times, no? Easy to remember. In Australia, you remember against Berdych the very important points 6-all in the tiebreak of the first set? So he didn’t make overrule, too, and ball was clear out. So I called the challenge late and the point was for Berdych.
“So is not a thing with me,” Nadal added. “Is a thing, general thing with the referees today that with the Hawk Eye I believe that they feels that they have less pressure than before. So probably knowing that you have the challenge, they don’t take the risk to have to overrule. He’s right in one thing; he’s wrong in another thing.”
Part of Tsonga’s disgust can be attributed to the fact he simply didn’t play well on a court he was playing on for the the first time during the event.
“I didn’t play a good match,” Tsonga admitted. “Didn’t play a good match. Didn’t start well. I mean, it tooks many time to get used to the surface. Was not the same as outside. I played all the time outside. o it took like two sets for me to get used to the surface. So after that, I played a bit better, just a bit better. It was enough to come back. That’s it.”
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