Former tennis star-turned-analyst Daniela Hantuchova says Rafael Nadal disrupted Dominic Thiem’s momentum in the French Open final with a questionable act of gamesmanship.
After Nadal won the first set 6-3 in Sunday’s final at Roland Garros, Thiem stunned the 12-time champ by taking the second 7-5.
The young Austrian had all the momentum heading into the third set, but Nadal stopped him in his tracks by taking a seven-minute comfort break.
Victoria Azarenka copped flack earlier in the tournament when she took an 11-minute break after losing a set against Naomi Osaka.
Nadal’s long break had some fans spitting chips, and Hantuchova says it would have affected Thiem ’big time’.
“The way he was able to come back after the toilet break, Rafa in the third set was incredible and pushed it to another level. It is extremely difficult,” she told the French Open YouTube channel.
“The energy that took Dominic to win that second set was huge and you just want to keep going with that momentum. Suddenly, having to wait for seven minutes, that must have affected him big time.
“When you are a little bit tired, you need every bit of energy to be always sharp. He almost had to start over again. It’s like you turn off your car and then you have to start it again. That costs extra energy.
“It seemed like from then on, Dominic was just not able to recover and be as sharp as he was in the first two sets which is obviously very understandable.
“All the credit to Dominic how he was able to turn things around in the second set and win it but I just felt like that’s when he started to really feel all the physical matches he has had to play in the matches before.”
A number of fans also noticed how Nadal responded after the break, and many were fuming that he wasn’t called out for it.
Congratulations Nadal but should not be taking a toilet break after losing a set to break the momentum of your opponent. You dont need to do it.— Gaffer (@_tanmay_) June 9, 2019
Don’t take a set off Rafa... he will take a toilet break to disrupt your rhythm. Win at any cost. That sounds just about right.— K. Chae (@kchae79) June 9, 2019
Nadal loses set - Nadal toilet break - Nadal break to 0 first game of next set - 💉— Lewis Harland (@BootchskiPop) June 9, 2019
Nadal seems to have toned down last few years. But na Dem Dem...toilet break to faux medical time out to crowd control when losing https://t.co/Xsdxm7mrxQ— J-T (@Tobiloba_) June 9, 2019
Looks like Nadal's convenient "toilet break" has had the desired effect on Thiem. Funny that eh #RolandGarros2019— Scott (@clonejack) June 9, 2019
‘I feel sorry’
The 33-year-old Nadal, who becomes the first player to win the same grand slam title 12 times, going past Margaret Court's 11 Australian Opens, now sits just two major titles behind his great foe and men's grand slam title record holder, 37-year-old Roger Federer.
"It's incredible. I can't explain the feeling," Nadal told the crowd.
"For me it was a dream to play here in 2005, and I could not imagine I would be back here in 2019. It's a very special moment for me.
"I want to say congratulations to Dominic. I feel sorry ... he deserves it. He has absolute intensity and passion for this sport. I wish him all the best for the future."