Rafael Nadal rarely loses his temper when on-court, but Italian opponent Lorenzo Sonego managed to do just that during their Wimbledon third-round encounter. Trailing 4-2 in the third set, Sonego convinced match officials to close the roof, claiming a lack of visibility. Nadal- on-serve and marching to a straight-set victory- did not take kindly to the interruption. Conceding a break to watch Sonego level the set 4-4, the Spaniard was miffed as he called the Italian to the net for a brief but ill-tempered exchange. Nadal expressed his irritation at Sonego’s grunting during rallies- a trait not uncommon to the Spaniard. However, the 2nd-seed soon recovered to close out the set, and with it, the match 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in straight sets.
Speaking after the match, Sonego accused Nadal of poor sportsmanship:
“A player should not call his opponent on the net. You cannot do that at Wimbledon. Nadal should have just had a word with the umpire. He distracted me,” quotes Hindustan Times.
Sonego is not the first to make such accusations against the masterful Mallorcan. Canadian Denis Shapovalov was incensed after his five-set loss to Rafa in the Australian Open quarter-final:
“I’m completely ready to play and the clock is ticking, clicking towards zero, and I’m looking at the ump…obviously I’m going to speak up. I’ve been ready to play for a minute and a half, and he tells me he’s not going to give him a code violation,” quoted Mid Day.
Nadal made a peace offering to the Italian, apologizing to Sonego as the dust settled on a fractious encounter:
“Well, first of all, I have to say that I was wrong. Probably I should not call him on the net. So apologise for that. My mistake in that. No problem. I recognise that. Then after that, all the stuff during the match that I don’t want to comment (on) because is something that I spoke with him in the locker room and it stays there. Only thing I can say is I saw him personally. I apologise for that,” quotes the Norwich Guardian.
Chasing a calendar Slam, Rafa faces unheralded Botic van de Zandschulp later today. In their previous meeting, Nadal eviscerated the Dutchman in straight sets at the Australian Open. Looking increasingly comfortable as the tournament progresses, the southpaw is on course for a third Wimbledon trophy.