'I Am More Than Barty': Nadal's Slur Over Wimbledon Court Snub
There are two ways to interpret Rafael Nadal's extraordinary comments overnight.
One is to call them arrogant. The other is to cut him a bit of slack.
Here's what happened. Australia's world number one, Ash Barty, suffered a shock 6-3 2-6 3-6 loss to American Alison Riske in a tense fourth-round thriller at Wimbledon last night, played on the 4,000-capacity Court Two.
Meanwhile, men's world number two Rafael Nadal brutally dismissed 69th-ranked Portuguese player João Sousa on the 15,000-capacity Centre Court, in a straight-sets slaying described by a leading tennis journalist as a "snoozer".
So was Barty disrespected by being forced to play on a comparatively minor court?
As Nadal pointed out in the press conference after his match, he's not responsible for scheduling. Whatever happened, it wasn't his fault. But he also added a few words which might best be described as "salty".
"In the world of tennis today, honestly, my feeling is today I am a little bit more than Ashleigh Barty -- even if Ashleigh Barty is the first player of the world and she already won in the French Open and she is playing unbelievably good," the Spaniard said.
"We can create polemics every single day about decisions they [Wimbledon organisers] have to take, but at the end of the day, they have to make a decision."
As mentioned, it's possible to read Nadal's comments as big-noting himself.
Then again, he has won 18 Grand Slams to Barty's one, and he has also been world number (at various times in his career) for a total of nearly four years. By comparison, Barty has been there just a couple of weeks.
So if his point was that either player would have worked as the main drawcard on the Monday arvo (England time) drawcard, then fair enough.
As for Barty herself, she was far too classy to be drawn into any controversy.
"I'll play on any court I'm scheduled on," the 23-year-old said.