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28 February 2024

Federer hits out at Nadal's grunting, slow play

Roger Federer admitted he found Rafael Nadal's grunt distracting after his loss in the Australia Open semifinal. (AFP)


Roger Federer railed against Rafael Nadal's loud grunting and slow play on Friday after he tumbled out of the Australian Open at the hands of the aggressive Spaniard.

The usually ice-cool Swiss had sharp words with the umpire mid-match about the Spaniard's ball-striking grunt, and complained he repeatedly goes unpunished for time violations.

Federer's polished demeanour slipped after he crashed to a seventh consecutive Grand Slam defeat to his rival and in straight sets, in an anti-climactic semifinal in Melbourne.

Federer admitted he found Nadal's grunt distracting because the Spaniard was making a noise during some points, but not others. Nadal won 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-3 for his 23rd win over Federer.

“It goes in phases. One point he does and he doesn't. That's just what I was complaining about,” Federer said. “Had no impact on the outcome of the match.”

He added that fidgety Nadal, who is notoriously slow to serve, should have racked up several time violations during their 33-match rivalry - but instead, he has only received two.

“Rafa is doing a much better job today than he used to. I mean, I'm not complaining much about the time. But I think I've played him, what, 33 or 34 times,” Federer said.

“He's gotten two point penalties over the course of our rivalry. I just think that's not quite happening. I mean, we know how much time he used to take.

“I'm not complaining about so many things. But, I mean, either you have rules or you don't. If you don't have rules, it's fine. Everybody can do whatever they want to do.”

He added: “I didn't lose the match because of that. It didn't bother me. I just felt I had to mention something.”

Nadal looked surprised when told about Federer's exchange with the umpire, and said nobody had complained about his grunting before.

“I really didn't know that. When I am playing, when I am hitting the ball during the point, the last thing that I am thinking is trying to bother the opponent,” he said.

“The only thing that I am focusing on is trying to hit my ball well. That's it.

“I am sorry if I bothered somebody, but I never did in the past. So it is something that nobody in my career, you know, told me nothing about this, that I am bothering the opponent.

“But if I bothered him in any moment, he knows 100 percent it was not because I wanted to. I never do anything on the court to bother the opponent. I think I did the normal things that I do in every match.”