(October 2, 2014) Back on the court for his first tournament since recovering from a right wrist injury, Rafael Nadal is in his first quarterfinal since winning his ninth French Open in June, beating German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk at the China Open on Thursday 6-3, 6-4.
After the win, the No. 2 seed criticized the balls being used in Beijing.
Critical of some of the balls used on tour in the past, the 14-time major champion was asked about what was wrong with them.
“I don’t know what’s good,” Nadal said with a smile.
“Seriously, no, I think the bounces are not the same all the time. If you throw the ball on the floor, the bounces goes everywhere. Is not a question of winning or losing. I won in Rio with this ball. I won tournaments with this ball.
“It’s just that we’re competing at the top level of our sport, tennis, and the ball is an important thing. There is a lot of good balls around the world. The brand of this ball is a strong brand. So if they have a contract with the ATP, they need to find a solution, change the ball, find another solution, because this ball is not working well.
“I am not talking for me only. That’s the feeling of the players out there on the locker room. Lot of players comes to me and tell me that.
“But is not question of this tournament. I say it in the past. Is more than a year that we are playing with this ball, and the ball is bad.
“Is not ATP Tour world‑class ball.”
“Changing balls every tournament create problems because the feeling of the ball…,” Nadal continued.
“I understand for people who really are not players, probably persons who will read that, sounds strange. But the ball is a big difference. Is a big difference between one ball and another ball.
“This week we are playing with one ball. Next week we are playing with a different ball. At the same time is a different ball and you need to adapt to the new ball in just two days.
“That’s dangerous for the shoulder, dangerous for the elbow. At the end that’s the thing we are talking for a long time on the tour, since I arrived here, and probably before. Seems very difficult to fix that almost ‑ as everything.”
Andy Murray who defeated Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals, was also asked about Nadal’s comments about the tennis balls, He said:
“I haven’t spoken to him about the ball. I think it’s something that players throughout the year tend to complain about because we have to change balls almost weekly really. That’s hard. If you want to see consistently high‑level tennis, it’s very difficult when you’re changing balls from week to week because they all react differently.
“For example, I had one day to get used to the conditions here. It’s tough. I’m sure if you gave golfers a different ball to play with each week, it would take them time to adjust to that, as well. It’s the same for the tennis players.
“But, yeah, the balls feel different to last week. I don’t have a problem with the balls. It’s just they feel different to last week.”
Nadal will face another qualifier in the next round in Martin Klizan. Klizan advanced when Ernest Gulbis retired from the match with a shoulder injury, trailing 6-2, 3-0.
All photos by Natalie Ho.