Rafael Nadal responds to selfish criticism as Roger Federer also forced to defend himself

Rafael Nadal insists he could not have done any more to help Australian Open qualifiers who competed in ‘hazardous’ conditions earlier this week. Brayden Schnur, who was hoping to land a place in the main draw, blasted Roger Federer and Nadal for not aiding lower-ranked players.

Several players fumed about being made to play their qualification matches in smoky conditions caused by Australia’s bushfire crisis.

Federer and Nadal were subject to much criticism from those struggling to breathe in the smoggy air.

Schnur was perhaps the most vocal as he personally called out two of the best players in the world.

“It’s got to come from the top guys – Roger and Rafa are a little bit selfish in thinking about themselves and their careers,” Schnur told AAP.

“Because they’re near the end and all they’re thinking about is their legacy and they’re not thinking about the sport itself and trying to do what’s good for the sport – so those guys need to step up.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal has defended himself after being slammed as selfish (Image: GETTY)

“You feel super dryness in your throat. That’s 100 per cent not normal and players who have asthma are at a huge disadvantage right now.”

Nadal took the opportunity to defend himself by explaining he sought out tournament director Craig Tiley to ask about the situation.

“This person who made the criticism rectified and I think the rectification has been adequate,” Nadal told the Spanish press in Melbourne.

“The only thing I can do as a prominent player is to ask the situation and, in that sense, my work has already been done.”

During his English press conference, Nadal expanded on his efforts to seek answers.

He added: “When the issue have been there couple of days ago with the qualifier, when I heard the players having issues, asking questions, me like a player, the only thing I can do is go to the tournament director office, ask what’s going on, because I have been practicing that days, too.

“I really received, for me – that’s not mean for everyone should be the same – but for me I received an answer that convince me. They told me that they have the right specialists here analysing and monitoring every four minutes the air.

“There is parameters, that with some parameters we don’t play, and with even the right — is over 200, we don’t play, under 200 we normally play. What I receive on the answer is on the ‘Olympic rule’ is until 300 you can keep competing.

“So when I receive an answer like this, when I receive an answer that the most important committee in the world of sport, like the Olympic Committee, allowed the people to compete until 300, and we are going until 200.

“I really cannot believe that the most important committee in the world wants bad health for the competitors. So that answer convince me. I am here to play. Hopefully the situation don’t come back to the negative numbers.

“My opinion is the tournament, the only thing they can do is have the right people here, the right people who can analyze everything what’s going on. The only thing that, in my opinion, the tournament can do is listen the specialists, listen the doctors, and then make the decision base on what the doctor says.

“If the doctor says is not problem, why we don’t going to play? If the doctor says a problem, of course there is an issue to not play.”

Federer also revealed the steps he took to push for answers.

“I was in the office that day to ask what’s the situation,” Federer said. “Like I explained to you guys, everybody is told to be inside, and we’re having court calls. How far are we from that threshold of playing, not playing?

“I said, I think we’re all confused. Is it super unsafe or is it totally safe to play? The problem on top of it, it was actually quite hot, too.

“Of course, everything gets put down on it was the smoke. For sure, it can be nothing else.

“So what can I do? I can go to the office, speak to them. I went to them the first day when it was bad on Tuesday, the next day on Wednesday when it was still bad.

“I told them, Look, I just think communication is key for all of us, for everybody. We just need to do more because I feel like I hadn’t gotten enough information.”

Author: Robert Dinero