Rafael Nadal was victorious in his first hardcourt match in 50 week last night, beating American youngster Ryan Harrison 76, 62 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Afterward, the 2-time champion there wasn’t all smiles. Rafa took aim (again) at the ATP’s new enforcement of the time, which he says, is actually making him play faster now.
“I am doing because somebody very smart puts a new rule that is a disaster, in my opinion,” Nadal said. “Not in places like here that is dry, you know, not very humid place, but is completely disaster when we are playing in tournaments like Acapulco, Brazil, or Chile.
“I cannot support that, because for so many facts in my opinion the rule is wrong. First thing, because the rules go against the great points of tennis.
Because if you see the highlights of the end of the season, I didn’t see not one highlight, the best points of the season, I did not see not one ace.
“The best points of the season are long rallies and amazing points. With this 25 seconds, you play a long rally and you think you can play another long rally next point?
“So the guy who really accepted this rule was not very smart, in my opinion,” he added. “You know what I did? Maybe somebody‑‑ maybe nobody did at the ATP, but I went back to my matches, great matches, in Grand Slams, playing long rallies in big tournaments, and when you play like a 30 points, you know, 30‑shots rally, 40‑shots rally like final of Roland Garros, like final of Australia, like final of any good tournament, you know, how much time we rested?
“You have to see the third set of the US Open 2011 against Djokovic, and you tell me if the crowd was very happy about what happened in that set or not, and tell me if with this new rule that can happen again. Please.”
Nadal is right. The best points of the season are often during lengthy rallies, however that doesn’t allow the players for extra time afterward. Some are back ready to serve within the 25 seconds ATP limit (20 seconds in Grand Slams).
At the start of the year the ATP modified their time rule allowing umpires to give players a fault instead of a point penalty when they exceed the 25 second clock. Previously the umpires were too scared to hand out a point penalty, but a fault is a softer blow.
Nadal did say his knee is feeling better but he remains cautious.
“After seven months I’m not gonna take crazy risks,” he said. “But I am here. When I am playing a tournament, if you know myself, my mentality is try my best in every moment. I really don’t think about my knee, but is true that for me today after seven months out of competition is easier to start and play on clay more than grass. Is true that we have the clay court season not very far.”
Rafa, though, did reiterate his stance against the amount of hardcourts on the ATP World Tour.
“ATP have to find a solution and not continue playing more and more tournaments on this surface that is the harder one for the joints and for the knees, for the foot, for the ankles, for the back, for everything,” Nadal said.
Nadal will play Leonardo Mayer tomorrow in the third round.
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