Players get over umpire clashes after break
MELBOURNE, Australia – Tennis fans might be anxiously awaiting the next installment of a Serena Williams match umpired by Carlos Ramos, but rest assured there’s little chance that scenario will happen in this Australian Open.
To refresh memories, Williams and Ramos had a number of serious altercations during the US Open final in September, a match that eventually put Naomi Osaka on the map as a Grand Slam tournament champion.
While there’s no official policy stipulating Ramos couldn’t be assigned to a Williams match here, there’s precedent that a player and umpire who recently shared a particularly volatile day on court will be granted an unofficial “vacation” from each other.
Rafael Nadal experienced a hiatus from umpire Carlos Bernardes of Brazil after the two clashed during the Rio de Janeiro tournament in February 2015. Nadal, well known for pushing the boundaries of time allotted between points, had been warned on that front earlier in the match.
After taking a break off court to change his clothes, Nadal returned to the match realizing he put his shorts on backward. Bernardes denied his request to go off court to turn the shorts around citing time as the reason, which forced Nadal into making the adjustment in front of spectators while on court.
After that match, Nadal admitted he requested Bernardes not umpire any of his matches for a period of time. He didn’t encounter Bernardes again until he played a doubles match in the Qatar Open in January 2016.
“As everybody knows, I had an issue with Carlos in Rio,” said Nadal, during his pre-Australian Open news conference on Saturday. “Everybody can have mistakes. For me, the only reason why during a small period of time I request if I cannot have him on the chair was because, in my opinion, that day in Rio de Janeiro, he didn’t respect me. That is all. He make me change my shorts in front of 7,000 people. Sorry, I don’t believe that’s nice. That’s all.”
Nadal insisted that he and Bernardes now have a good working relationship.
“He umpire me plenty of times after that.” Nadal said. “I am not people that going to think about what happened in the past. I see him on the airport traveling all around. I always say hello. Being honest, I respect him a lot. I think he’s one of the best umpires that we had for a long time.
“We don’t have problems at all. If he’s on the chair tomorrow, after tomorrow, I will not think at all about what happened in the past.”
Nadal also had words with Ramos during the 2017 French Open, where he won his record 10th of 11 tournament trophies. Ramos, a law-and-order style official, called Nadal out with a time violation during a fourth-round match.
Australian Nick Kyrgios is a player who frequently loses his cool during matches and often throws temper tantrums in the direction of umpires. When asked about his overall relationship with officials on Saturday, Kyrgios joked, “I love them. Go to dinner with them all the time.”
He then became serious on the role of umpires in the game and willingly took the blame for overstepping on numerous occasions during matches.
“I mean, their job is tough,” he admitted. “They’re just doing the best they can. I understand that sometimes I do go a bit too far in frustration. When I’m competing out there, you do kind of lose touch with reality. They’re just normal people trying to do their best. They do make mistakes.
“When I see them off the court, I kind of laugh when I walk past them,” he added. “They know on court things happen. It’s a strange occupation to do. I wouldn’t personally do it because I wouldn’t want, like, a guy like myself just hounding me for 21⁄2 hours. Someone’s got to do it, I guess.”
Serena Williams had a heated dispute with chair umpire Carlos Ramos in the 2018 US Open final.