Rafael Nadal may actually be starting to get the
message that he needs to speed up his play. The notoriously slow clay
ace who can take up to 30 leisurely seconds - the limit is 20 at a grand
slam and 25 on the ATP - finally has a fear of point penalties. And he
tries to play quick-smart when hardline Frenchman Pascal Maria is in the
That was the case in the third round when the
Spanish top seed beat Leonardo Mayer, saying he barely even stopped to
towel down between points.
"When Pascal is here I don't even take my towel;
otherwise it's too long. Each referee, he acts in his own way,
what they believe is the best thing to do."
Nadal has long complained about the speed-up
campaign between points: "I don't see sport this way, but there are
rules. There are rules that we have to comply with. It is
strange, because we have a framework of rules, but with him I always
have problems. Always there is more pressure than usual."
His logic: after a long point with lots of
running it might not be possible to be ready to play on so quickly. "I
don't think it's logical, mainly when there is a break point, and if it
was an important point. But anyway, I only have to listen and
accept, and that's the way it is. I shouldn't lose my focus, and I
have to continue and do my best.”
His suggestion: "The best thing would be to have
a big clock with a countdown on the court, and then when there is no
more seconds to go, we would have to serve. If we have this, a
countdown, we would know exactly how many seconds we have left. We
would know what to do and when.
"But tennis is a sport where we should be able
to think. It's physical; it's mental; there are strategies. Otherwise
it's just about keeping an eye on the clock."