Canada’s Denis Shapovalov accused chair umpire Carlos Bernardes of corruption during his Australian Open quarter-final loss to Rafael Nadal.
In a see-sawing five-set affair in hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena, Nadal came out on top 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3, overcoming an abdominal problem during the match.
The contest exploded into life after Shapovalov dropped the first set 6-3 and appeared frustrated at the start of the second, taking issue with Nadal’s pace of play.
The pace of the match is controlled by the server and when the 20-time Grand Slam champion wasn’t ready to begin the set on Shapovalov’s serve, the Canadian made his frustration known.
“You started the clock so long ago, he’s still not ready to play,” Shapovalov told Bernardes.
“You’ve got to code [violation] him.”
Although Nadal looked ready to receive after that complaint, Shapovalov then pulled away from another serve, asking Bernardes to “code him.”
“For what?” the veteran umpire responded.
“He’s not ready to play. Are you kidding me? You guys are all corrupt, you guys are all corrupt,” Shapovalov said, appearing to suggest the tennis fraternity favours big-name players such as the Spaniard.
Take a look at the exchange below.
🗣️ “You guys are all corrupt!”
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 25, 2022
That wouldn’t be the end of the drama.
Having won his service game to start the second set, Shapovalov held his arms out, waiting for Nadal’s serve despite there being several seconds left on the shot clock.
The two players then met at the net, Nadal seemingly attempting to placate the 22-year-old’s concerns.
“Shapovalov has no business putting his hands up in the air when there’s time on the clock,” Jim Courier said in commentary.
“If the clock is zero, then he should say, ‘Bernardes, call it.’ The frustration from the first set is bubbling over a little bit.”
Shapovalov would go onto lose the set 6-4, but the momentum shifted in the third, with Nadal clearly hampered by injury or illness.
He received treatment on court but Shapovalov wasn’t about to let up and took the third and fourth sets.
A medical timeout before the final set then brought about another change of direction in the match, Nadal looking stronger as the fifth hour approached.
In the end, the 35-year-old’s championship qualities got him over the line, earning him a 36th Grand Slam semi-final berth.
“At the beginning of the match I was playing great but I know how difficult it is to play against a player like Denis, he’s very talented, very aggressive, he was serving huge and especially the second serve,” Nadal said post-match.
“I started to feel not very well in my stomach so I just asked if they can do something. I took some tablets to try to improve the stomach problem I had, that’s all.
“I think was lucky that was serving great in the fifth.”
Shapovalov was aiming to equal his best performance in a major tournament, having made the semis at Wimbledon in 2021, while Nadal is attempting to become the first male player to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles.