Roger Federer, after winning his fifth Australian Open title defeating Rafael Nadal, defended the medical time-out he availed after the fourth set stating that he took time off the court since the guidelines permitted him to.
It was a crucial moment in the match with him and Rafael Nadal both tied at two sets each when Federer took the off-court medical time-out. After leading the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, Federer lost a bit of momentum in the fourth set as Nadal took the set 6-3.
To a few, including former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, who was commentating for BBC’s Radio 5 Live, the break seemed a bit lengthy and lambasted Federer for availing it at a time when the momentum was clearly in the Spaniard’s favour.
According to a report in Sydney Morning Herald, Cash stated: “It’s cheating and it’s being allowed. It’s legal cheating but it’s still not right.”
It wasn’t like the time-out created instant magic for Federer as he failed to hold on to his initial serve in the fifth set to allow Nadal an early break.
“Look, I mean, I explained myself a couple of days ago after the Stan (Wawrinka) match,” Federer said. “After he (Wawrinka) took a medical time-out, I thought I could also take one for a change and see if actually something like a massage during the match is actually going to help me. It did a little bit potentially. I’m not sure.”
Federer could be seen relaxing his muscles and getting the physio to rub his thighs during the fifth set as well. He did manage to break Nadal in the sixth game though, and didn’t lose a game thereafter as he clinched his 18th Grand Slam title.
“Well, I felt my quad midway through the second set already, and the groin started to hurt midway through the third set,” he said. “I just told myself, ‘the rules are there (so) you can use them’. I also think we shouldn’t be using these rules or abusing the system. I think I’ve led the way for 20 years. So I think to be critical there is exaggerating. I’m the last guy to call a medical time-out.”
Nadal, whose on-field expressions are mostly about him raring to go for a point, seemed to be okay with the move and wasn’t found hovering near the chair umpire unlike a few opponents.
This was the third time Nadal ended up as the second-best in the Australian Open and vividly didn’t want to get involved in controversies. On being asked after the match if he felt anything otherwise regarding the move, the Spaniard replied: “No opinion about that. I don’t know what’s going on.”