When the tension in the match fizzled out, the strain off-court began to show.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were locked in a tight battle, muscling exchanges from the back of the court, when the Serb pulled away due to an eye irritation. The umpire announced it plainly as a, “contact lens problem,” and focus of the match was lost.
All the attempts to rectify the situation came unstuck and Djokovic, as he said, “playing with one eye,” lost the match 7-5, 6-2 in a blur. The 2008 Australian Open champion, however, was ready for one last shot at the officials during the post-match press conference. The regulated injury-out time, he figured, was not enough to treat his case.
“If I was supposed to get more time or not, that's a question for the officials,” he said. “You have to ask them if that was a case where they have to find an exception. But obviously they didn't realise the situation, so it's okay.
“I feel really sick talking about it, to be honest, because it's just incredible that this happened to me. It was the first time this happened. And I needed some time to make it right, but I didn't have time. Everybody was hurrying me up. Three minutes, 30 seconds, come to the court, play your match.”
On the court, Djokovic complained that Nadal was taking too much time between points. Though the Spaniard has been warned of the offence before, Nadal thought it wasn't in the spirit of things after Djokovic had taken “seven and not three minutes” of medical timeout.
“He told me I had to go faster between points,” Nadal said. “If I have to wait seven minutes for him, it's not a problem. It shouldn't be a problem for him if I am five seconds late. He put pressure that I have to go faster, and that's not fair play. That's what I said to him.”
Nadal has won his first two matches and a set against Tomas Berdych will be enough for him to go through, while Djokovic will have to beat Andy Roddick to make it to the last four.