Rafael Nadal’s Hypocritical Comments Raise Good Points

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In the last few day,s Rafael Nadal won his opening match at this year’s US Open comfortably 7-6 6-2 6-2 against Serbian Dusan Lajovic and will play the 121st ranked player Taro Daniel in the second round today. Amongst all thi,s it hasn’t stopped the Spaniard from reacting strangely to Andy Murray’s withdrawal affecting the draw–especially considering he has done the exact same thing in a Slam before himself. He also has not commented on the scheduling, which has gone his way; yet in the past has when it hasn’t he has made a fuss about it.

The Draw

To start we’ll look at the draw. When the draw was made, second-seeded player Andy Murray was the World #2 and therefore placed in the bottom half. Roger Federer, a winner of two Grand Slams this year, was therefore the third seed with a 50/50 chance (on paper) of being in Nadal’s or Murray’s half.

After the draw was made, due to an ongoing hip injury, the 2012 champion pulled out, leaving the bottom half without a top three player. The Spaniard commented after his first round win, saying, “It was a little bit strange that he retired just the morning after the draw was made. It is something that is a little bit strange and difficult to understand.” Of course, he mainly said because now the two highest ranked players to start the event, and by far the best two players of the season, are in the same half of the draw.

However, he’s rather being a hypocrite, since he did the same thing and withdrew after the Wimbledon 2009 draw was made but before play begun–leading to Juan Martin Del Potro being moved in the draw and therefore getting 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt in the second round, who he lost to in straight sets. In this year’s case, 2014 champion and fifth seed Marin Cilic was moved into Andy Murray’s spot, with a few lower seeds also being moved around. With the sudden surprise loss of Alexander Zverev in the second round last night, we are left in a unique situation where there isn’t a top six player left in the bottom half of the draw and only one top 14 player. Meanwhile, as it currently stands, the top half has two of the top three and five of the top 14.

The issue here is that according to the rules the number one to four seeds are all equal. That is why both at Wimbledon 2009 and the US Open the fifth seed was moved. Although occurrences like this are rare, realistically only the first two seeds are equal while the third and fourth seeds are equal to each other (but not the top two); there is no reason they should all be grouped together. Therefore, instead of Marin Cilic being moved it should have been the third seed Roger Federer who took Andy Murray’s place. It’s a stupid rule that needs to be fixed.

The Schedule

Back at Roland Garros in 2008, Nadalcomplained about the scheduling when showers affected the first week of the tournament. The organisers then proceeded to put a match from the other half of the draw, which was originally meant to be played a day after his clash, causing Nadal to say he wished the schedule of the Grand Slam was “maintained”–keeping in mind his next round opponent had already had two days off.

In 2013, at the same tournament, Nadal had to play both his second and third round matches back to back while his third round opponent Fabio Fognini had a day off. At the time, the seven-time champion claimed women’s matches shouldn’t be scheduled ahead of the mens due to the difference in sets making it “more tough.”

While at this year’s US Open it’s more or less a role reversal, and not really for the first time. Although showers hit most of Tuesday, the 15-time Grand Slam champion wasn’t affected due to Arthur Ashe stadium having a roof, and he won comfortably. Meanwhile, Taro Daniel and Tommy Paul were scheduled second on an outside court despite the winner, meaning the winner to play someone who was guaranteed to make it through on the Tuesday regardless of weather. As it happened, both Daniel and Paul didn’t hit a ball on Tuesday and instead went the full five sets Wedneday, with the Japanese man Daniel winning. Now, today (Thursday), he’ll take on Rafael Nadal with no days of rest.

The truth is with only one roof, the scheduling will always be unfair, but shouldn’t Taro vs Paul have been at least first up on a court if the winner’s second round opponent was on the main court, given the weather forecast? It seems logical if anything. Even if they could have only completed a set or two on Tuesday, it would have still been better than Daniel having to play the full five yesterday. Nadal was quite vocal (twice) when a similar situation went against him, but he has been nowhere to be found in his opponent’s defense today.

Overall although Nadal’s comments are rather hypocritical on both accounts, in both he’s right. Something needs to be done to fix Grand Slam draws if a top two withdraws before the event begins but after the draw is made, to avoid arguably the weakest half of a Grand Slam in over 15 years. Meanwhile, the schedulers need to think about what they’re doing and at least take into account the forecast and situation and make it as fair as can be. Sadl,y however, it seems almost every Grand Slam these days is unable to even try and promote, fairness given recent scheduling (and other) issuesat Roland Garros and Wimbledon as well.

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