Rafa gets riled up at ATP World Tour Finals
Incensed and even a little indignant, Rafael Nadal displayed a rare fit of fury Friday at the ATP World Tour Finals.
The top-ranked Spaniard was enraged when the chair umpire awarded Tomas Berdych a point after a challenge in the first set of his final round-robin match at the O2 Arena.
''There is no argument,'' said Nadal, who went on to win 7-6 (3), 6-1. ''I am right, but it's (a) mistake for him.''
Nadal, who advanced to the semifinals with three straight wins at the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world, still managed to hold serve to 6-6 in that game and force a tiebreaker. He then easily won six of the next seven games in the second set, but rarely has Rafa been so riled up while on court.
''The important thing, I was playing really well before that point. This point doesn't change a lot,'' said Nadal, who also beat the sixth-ranked Czech in this year's Wimbledon final. ''Finally I was lucky. I won that game.''
Berdych popped up a backhand that the line judge didn't call out, and Nadal put the ball back into play before raising his hand to signal the shot had been long. At about the same time, chair umpire Carlos Bernardes stepped in to rule the ball out, giving Nadal the point.
But Berdych challenged the call, and the replay showed the ball to be good, just nicking the baseline. Rather than replaying the point, however, the Brazilian chair umpire gave the point to Berdych, making it 15-30 instead of 30-15.
When Nadal heard that, he immediately started to argue.
The normally calm Spaniard first complained to Bernardes, who refused to change his mind. He then approached tournament supervisor Tom Barnes, who was sitting in the front row. Barnes got out of his seat to listen to Nadal's appeal, but still did not reverse the call.
''I told him he's wrong, I think. He's wrong. That's something unbelievable,'' Nadal said of his conversation with Barnes. ''The point is still playing, and I understand the rule. I understand the challenge, the ball was good. But if I put the ball inside, it's impossible to lose the point.''
The entire episode lasted a couple of minutes, and Berdych blamed Bernardes for the disruption after he announced the score.
''It just shows how the referee is probably scared of him and just let him to talk with him too long,'' Berdych said. ''I mean, it's not the mistake of Rafa. It's the mistake of the referee. He just needs to show him that it's not like he can do whatever he wants on the court.''
Berdych then missed a pair of forehands to allow Nadal back into the lead, and after the first one Nadal celebrated almost like never before in the middle of a match.
After going to deuce, Nadal hit a forehand winner down the line and won the game when Berdych returned a backhand wide.
Berdych, who was making his debut at the season-ending tournament, lost all three of his matches in London. But he was sure he deserved that particular point because he said Nadal challenged the original shot that had been allowed to stand by the line judge.
''It's pretty simple. He was able to play (it),'' Berdych said. ''But every time when you just raise your hand, that means that you stop the play. That's the reason why I was just challenging the ball, because he stopped the play, and that's it.''
Nadal said instinct made him raise his hand, but that he never actually asked for the call to be challenged.
''If I don't see the umpire saying 'out,''' Nadal said, ''I'm going to continue the point for sure because it's a big risk for me to say the ball is out.''