In the aftermath of Alexander Zverev's controversial suspended sentence, Rafael Nadal advocated for stiffer penalties for players who disrespect tennis officials on Thursday. As a friend and practice partner of Zverev, Spanish great Rafael Nadal stated that he had no desire to see the German Olympic winner face a harsher punishment for his violent outburst at last month's Mexico Open in Acapulco. However, as a fan of the sport, the 21-time Grand Slam champion believes that stronger penalties are required.
Zverev was disqualified from the competition after slamming his racket into the umpire's chair several times before angrily insulting the official.
For the event, the 24-year-old was given a suspended eight-week ban and a $25,000 fine on Monday, sanctions that some have criticized as being overly light.
Nadal stated that future fines should be more severe, speaking ahead of the ATP/WTA Indian Wells Masters tournament in California on Thursday.
"It's quite tough for me to speak in my situation because, I have a wonderful relationship with Sascha (Zverev) — I like him and we train together frequently," Nadal said.
"Every day, I'm enjoying it and trying to maintain the appropriate mentality to appreciate the fact that I'm playing well, enjoying matches, and winning trophies."
"I wish him the best of luck, and he understands that he was mistaken, and he realised that early on."
"That, in my opinion, is a positive move on his behalf.
"On the other hand, if we can't control and build a rule or a way to penalise these kinds of attitudes more harshly, we as gamers will feel stronger and stronger all the time." We must provide a positive example, especially for the children who look up to us. So, on one hand, I don't want Sascha to be penalised since I like him and have a nice relationship with him.
"On the other hand... I'd want to see something tougher for this kind of mentality, not just him, but in general, since it protects the sport and the officials," he says.
Meanwhile, Nadal is looking forward to another campaign in the Californian desert, where he has already won three times.
The Spaniard has had an incredible start to 2022, going 15-0 and winning his record-tying 21st Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open.
"It was an unexpected time for me to be in this scenario," Nadal said.
"I've been able to alter my game to what I need to be competitive - being more aggressive on some days, tactical on others, and defensive on others.
"Then I was brave enough to play with the appropriate determination in the correct situations."