Rafael Nadal, the defending U.S. Open champion and the No. 2 ranked player in the world, ripped U.S. Open officials, after spending 15 minutes on a soggy Arthur Ashe Stadium court Wednesday afternoon, for putting money ahead of player's safety.
Nadal, who was last seen cramping up at a press conference Sunday, could have been accused of having a Midol moment, but was later joined by Andy Roddick and Andy Murray in voicing their umbrage at tournament referee Brian Earley for allowing matches to be played on a rain-slicked surface.
"It's the same old story. All you think about is money," Nadal could be heard telling Earley while the tennis player exited the court and the referee checked the surface to see if it was still playable.
Nadal's fourth-round match was suspended after he fell behind 3-0 to Gilles Muller.
Nadal insisted the match, which was started in a misty rain, should not have even started. A heavier rain followed and the court got slippery and the ball got heavier.
What does Earley think this is...a Yankees-Orioles game? Why not start the matches at 11 p.m. while you're at it.
"We want to feel good when we are playing the tournament," said Nadal. "For sure we cannot accept these things. I work all my life hard to be playing...We have to fight to have the power to say we don't want to go on the court when it's raining. I think it's not fair."
Yesterday, the tournament postponed 54 matches due to the heavy rain and officials were eager to resume play. If the Open goes an extra day, it would be the fourth year in-a-row the tournament has finished on a Monday.
The USTA issued a statement Wednesday afternoon explaining its decision to play in the inclement weather.
"All parties, including the players and tournament, want to get the U.S. Open back on schedule. As of 12 noon today, the best information available to us indicated the chance of a two-hour window without rain. Unfortunately, not all light rain and mist shows up on radar. We have experienced referees, and they decide if courts are fit to play. Conditions may not be ideal, but can still be safe. However, if a player or players feel that conditions are unsafe, we listen to them, as we always done, and the referee uses that information as part of his/her assessment on whether to continue or halt play."
Nadal seems to think player's safety takes a back seat to television revenue.
In an interview with ESPN 2, Nadal said, "We're not feeling protected (by) the tournament. I understand they need to put tennis on TV. I understand the business side of it. First and foremost, I think the players need to feel comfortable and safe."
Serena Williams tweeted her support for Nadal via Twitter. "Preach @RafaelNadal preach."
In the 1999 Open, Mary Joe Fernandez injured her knee against Venus Williams after slipping on a wet court. Fernandez won the first set, 6-2, but lost the next two, 6-1, 6-0.
Nadal better get used to it. The forecast calls for rain through Saturday.