Rafael Nadal is concerned penalties for threatening behaviour towards tennis officials are too lenient after Alexander Zverev repeatedly smashed his racquet against umpire Alessandro Germani’s chair and verbally abused the official at the Mexican Open last month. “We need to be a positive example, especially for the kids watching us,” said the Spaniard ahead of his involvement at Indian Wells.
Rafael Nadal has called for tougher penalties to be imposed upon tennis stars who abuse officials after Alexander Zverev was handed a controversial suspended sentence for his actions in Acapulco.
The German Olympic gold medallist was kicked out of the singles draw at the ATP 500 tournament last month when he smashed his racquet on an umpire’s chair following a doubles defeat.
Zverev has since been given a one-year probation with no immediate punishment and Nadal feels it’s time to clamp down on what he believes to be a growing trend of dissent.
“I have a good relationship with Sascha, I like him, I practise with him very often, so I wish him all the very best. And he knows that he was wrong and he recognised that very early and that’s a positive thing,” Nadal said.
“On the other hand, if we are not able to control this type of attitude on court, not just this one instance in particular, there has been other stuff going on in the last couple of months.
IF WE ARE NOT ABLE TO PENALISE THESE TYPES OF ATTITUDES IN A LITTLE STRONGER WAY, THEN WE AS PLAYERS WILL FEEL STRONGER AND STRONGER ALL THE TIME. IN THIS SPORT, WE HAVE TO BE A POSITIVE EXAMPLE, ESPECIALLY FOR THE KIDS.”
Nadal was speaking to the media ahead of his involvement at the Indian Wells Masters 1000 tournament with his first match scheduled for Saturday.
The Spaniard is a three-time champion in the desert and arrives on the back of a stunning 15-match winning streak that has seen him kick off 2022 with three titles, including a record 21st Grand Slam triumph at the Australian Open.
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“As everyone knows this is one of my favourite tournaments,” added Nadal.
“I have been practising, playing some golf, enjoying the good weather here and trying to be ready for the tournament.
“I have been trying to be calm, but I am increasing the practice.”