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"I am more than Ashleigh Barty": Rafael Nadal starts sexism storm at Wimbledon

"I am more than Ashleigh Barty": Rafael Nadal starts sexism storm at Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal has weighed in on the Wimbledon court debate as he rejected suggestions that Ash Barty deserved to play on Centre Court over him on Monday.

Despite her world number one status, Barty only played one of her four Wimbledon matches on Centre Court this year. The French Open champion was also assigned to play on the 4,000-capacity Court 2, the third-ranked court at the All England Club, for two rounds – including her last match against Alison Riske on Monday night, where she suffered a shock loss 6-3 2-6 3-6.

In the same evening, men’s world number two Nadal defeated 69th-ranked João Sousa on the 15,000-seater Centre Court in a straight-sets win described by a leading tennis journalist as a “snoozer”.

When asked by a journalist if the more competitive women’s match involving the world’s number one should have been staged on Centre Court instead of his, Nadal said, “I am the world No. 2 and I won 18 grand slams.”

Nadal said there was no way to predict whether one match will be more exciting than the other. “Can we predict the future or not?” he said.

“My answer is not no or yes. My answer is they make a decision. You are putting Ashleigh Barty in front of me. For me, both decisions are good.”

Nadal said he felt that his standing in the sport is ahead of Barty’s.

“In the world of tennis today, honestly, my feeling is today I am little bit more than Ashleigh Barty, even if Ashleigh Barty is the first player of the world and she already won in the French Open and she is playing unbelievably good,” the 33-year-old said.

“But we can’t create problems every single day about decisions that they have to take. At the end of the day they have to make a decision.

“Court No. 2, okay, they have to make decisions. Today they probably decided that. They have another girls playing on the Centre Court now.”

Barty said the court assignment does not affect the way she plays her match. 

“Scheduling is out of my control. I’ll play on any court I’m scheduled on,” the 23-year-old said.

“I think obviously scheduling is very difficult. There are so many incredible matches all the fans and all the people want to watch, and players want to be a part of.

“No matter what court you’re scheduled on, it shouldn’t matter how you approach the match or play. It certainly doesn’t for me.

“Court 2 is a beautiful court here. We played on that court earlier in the rounds and for a doubles match, as well. It’s a beautiful court. I enjoyed my time out there.”