Nadal felt Brazilian Bernardes was “not enough respectful” during a match in Rio de Janeiro, when Nadal put his shorts on the wrong way round and asked if he could go to the locker-room to change.
Bernardes told the world No 7 he would receive a time warning and, after beating home wildcard Quentin Halys 6-3 6-3 6-4 in the first round of the French Open, the Spaniard said it was “better for both of us if we are not (on a) court at the same time for a while.”
World No 1 Djokovic, himself a first-round winner over??Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 7-5 6-2, was critical of Nadal’s request when questioned on the subject.
???There are some chair umpires in some matches that I remember that I wasn???t very happy with how they did their job,??? the Serb said.??
???But I never thought of requesting a chair umpire not to be a chair umpire in my matches. I don???t think that???s fair. I don’t think that’s fair to them. You know, they do their job as best as they can. Of course, sometimes they do it better or worse.”
France’s tennis federation handles chair umpire assignments at Roland Garros and a spokesperson confirmed there had been no request by Nadal to avoid Bernardes during the French Open.
However they added it was common knowledge the two have a tense relationship and it would make sense not to put them on the same court.
ATP spokesman Simon Higson revealed the world tour would not comment on any specific decisions related to how it picked chair umpires for matches.
Speaking generally about a player asking for a certain umpire to be kept away from his matches, Higson wrote in an email: “Requests such as this are not uncommon, either from the player or the umpire.”