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Did Nadal admit to cheating? From Nelson Goodman. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on October 1, 2010


What do people think about the following discussions – where Rafa reportedly flat out admits that he was asking and receiving serve-placement tips from his box during the Djokovic final?


38 Responses to “Did Nadal admit to cheating? From Nelson Goodman. Thanks.”

  1. Sarah said

    Rafael is the ONE that has the hit the ball.

  2. M said

    Sigh. Are we doing this again? I could have sworn we’d gone over this version of what happened already, including a discussion of how something may well have been lost in the translation from the original in El País.

    (And no, I don’t mean the most recent Marca article with the doctor who spoke about Rafa’s knees, either. I remember that too — this is a different article.)

    Certainly has that beaten-dead-horse air about it …

    • Jenny said

      Thanks for the post, Nelson, but I agree with M on this one.

      • Nelson Goodman said

        Sorry! Missed the earlier discussion of this specific episode/quote. In any case, I’m less interested in Rafa-bashing and more in whether, if true, this doesn’t require either changing the rules to make some kind of limited coaching more explicit or really enforcing the current rules more strictly to ensure fairness b/t the players. I know lots get tips, but some don’t and there outta be some way of evening things out a bit more, no?

      • Jenny said

        No need for apology, Nelson. I understood where you were coming from, as I did with M. Most of us try to be fair to all the players, but it’s only natural if we are somewhat protective of our faves. Fortunately, we rarely get downright disrespectful, nasty player bashing on this site and long may it continue! Keep posting, Nelson 🙂

  3. wuiches said

    yep, Toni should be coaching Murray now, Nadal has already many slams, I’m sure Toni is the true reason for that.

    If Toni goes with Andy or Soderling or Nalbandian or Davydenko I’m sure any of them would have a slam already!!!

  4. claire said

    I don’t know – Yes “Rafael is the ONE that his the ball” but on a tennis court it’s the player’s decision ONLY where to place the ball! Cheating is cheating and I think it’s a shame that Nadal and Uncle Toni do it, Nadal is not setting a good example for children. I have been exposed to many “cheating” incidents and that reflects poorly on the person. I was really starting to feel good about Nadal and all his accomplishments and time in spends improving his game but when the the cheating incidents re-surface, I see Nadal in a whole new light! I still believe that Nadal will do just about anything to win!

    It may have to do with a confidence thing. Maybe Nadal is so dependent on his Uncle. Hasn’t it been mentioned that Uncle Toni has been know to treat Nadal like a kid? I remember Nadal saying that when he is alone in his home he doesn’t go to his bedroom?

    I wonder how much Nadal is in control of his own life? Sometimes I think Nadal is Uncle Toni’s puppet!

    • M said

      Claire — if you can’t read the full article in Spanish and have no idea how much you’re missing in translation, I have to say I’m really wondering how you feel yourself qualified to comment.

      On the other hand, opinions are like … well, everybody has one.

      “Nadal is not setting a good example for children”

      On the other hand — having now given myself three hands — I stand by what I said earlier, which is that this particular horse has in fact been beaten to death.

      No chance we can move on, is there?

      • claire said


        Please stop the personal attack – we’ve been there before also “No change we can move on,is there?”

        I have many Spanish speaking friends – so I’ll have them translate the article although I don’t understand that the above posted articles weren’t translated correctly?

    • wuiches said

      “Nadal is not setting a good example for children” LOL!!!!!! that’s why he was cheering Joker about that!!! cuz’ he can’t be it by himself!!!! LOL!!

      “I remember Nadal saying that when he is alone in his home he doesn’t go to his bedroom?”

      that’s true, once I was listening an interview for some spanish radio station and he said that he was afraid of being alone in his house cuz’ it’s kind of big, he doesn’t feel comfortable in that situation. WTF is wrong with him!!!!!!!!!!!

      about the coaching definitely he must be punish for that, maybe they don’t do it cuz’ they can’t apply a rule just to one player, they would have to punish all the players that do such thing but that might turn in some sort of witch hunt, a lot of players will complain and maybe the media would make a big party about that, kid of complex situation I think.

  5. chipnputt said

    M is right. We should move on, bit move on while recognizing that Rafa does receive on-court coaching and that is against the rules. That bit is indisputable – Rafa has been called for it and has admitted as such. The next bit is trickier — how outraged are you about that? Well, that depends on how you believe sport should be played. Here is Jon Wertheim from SI on this topic. At one level, he condemns it —

    “..this isn’t a new development. As recently a Wimbledon, Nadal’s camp was fined for coaching. (“Sometimes in the past, maybe Toni talks too much, but not this time, in my opinion,” Nadal said in summary.) Roger Federer called out Uncle Toni for coaching a full five years ago. From Justine Henin to Maria Sharapova to Andy Murray, other players seek in-match counsel from their brain trusts. Is it something to be condemned? Yes. Is it something tennis’ high priests should aggressively address and tackle? Definitely. Is it regrettable, especially for a player such as Nadal whose sportsmanship is otherwise impeccable? Sure.”

    But, he goes on to say that doesn’t taint Rafa’s USO title and, anyway, he wouldn’t call it cheating:

    “…calling it “cheating” is a bit harsh by my reckoning. Cheating is taking banned drugs that enhance performance. Cheating is a college team paying its athletes. Cheating is using banned equipment. What Nadal does is akin to a soccer player diving, an NBA player flopping or a baseball player celebrating a catch on a ball he knows he trapped. It’s gamesmanship, morally shaky to be sure, but a misdemeanor rather than a felony.”

    Here is my take: How you view Rafa (or Justine or Maria or anyone) receive coaching really depends on how you believe sport should be played. Is it okay for a player to dive in soccer or claim a trapped ball as a catch in baseball? Is this what you’d teach your kid how to play? That is your answer.

    • banti said

      Thanks Chipnputt. Everything above makes sense. There is no way any of Rafa’s matches are affected by what is going on. It is unfortunate that its happening, and needs to somehow be reprimanded in a more efficient way. I definitely feel its not a major violation (cheating) but Rafa of all people should tell Toni to keep his mouth/hand gestures to himself.

    • Jenny said

      I think Chip raises some good points which includes an excerpt from a Wertheim article in which Wertheim says ‘calling it ‘cheating’ is a bit harsh by my reckoning…’ etc. I agree with him, some of this stuff, imho, is blown out of all proportion. Moving on from that, how would you consider obvious gamesmanship in it’s many guises? Is this an ‘acceptable’ form of ‘cheating’? If you are going to apply the word ‘cheat’ surely one should consider this also, because to me it’s a grey area. Med times, bathroom breaks: I tend to give a player the benefit of the doubt here, but I have to say some of them have looked like tactical moves in an attempt to disrupt an opponent’s rhythm. I’m not accusing anyone in particular, there are no rules to apply because one has to rely on the integrity of the player concerned and I choose to see the good rather than the bad, unless they’re obviously pushing it over a period of time.

      My own player Ferrer has always been regarded as a good sportsman with integrity and yet he too was warned for off court coaching some months ago by the umpire so it isn’t just Rafa. I saw the match, but have no idea what it was all about because the camera didn’t focus on his team so the TV viewing public didn’t see anything untoward coming from his box. His reaction was one of a shake of the head in disbelief, big eyes, puzzlement and question, [I certainly didn’t see him look towards his box for prompts at any time] but he accepted the call without argument and got on with it.

      • chipnputt said

        I agree, Sperry. There is opinion and there is fact. The fact is Rafa has received on court coaching. And the fact is it is against the rules. No matter how someone may try to spin it, these are facts and not a matter of opinion. Opinion only comes in later, as in how one reacts to Rafa’s rule violation. And, as you point out, that bit depends on how much you like/dislike a player and, I think, how you believe sport should be played.

      • chipnputt said

        Jenny, it is semantics. To me, cheating is when you deliberately break the rules and hope you don’t get caught. Gamesmanship is (perhaps) a violation of the spirit of the rules, but not an actual violation of the rules. So, toilet breaks etc. may not be very nice things to do but it is within the rules of the game. On court coaching is a rules violation.

        Also, if umps call something, they are usually right. They are the rules keepers and are unbiased, especially as TV replays can show them up very badly. But depending on the umpire, rules can be imposed inconsistently. Players often react in a surprised way because somebody has called a rule on them that they had been getting away with before.

      • Jenny said

        I agree Chip, there are no rules for those I mentioned, other than as you say ‘spirit’.

  6. xeres said

    Whenever I come across this whole Uncle coaching from the stands article and the opinions that follow
    I wonder why didn’t/isn’t anyone saying anything about Justine Henin & Rodriguez ?
    But then again the WTA is a whole different circus altogether.

    • Bettyjane said

      The WTA wow! It seems that looking up at your box is the norm there. Definitely Xeres!

    • Ricke said

      Don’t get me started on Justine cheating! Phantom hand raising time out anyone? I still haven’t gotten over that one. To me that was unsportsmanlike conduct at its worst.

  7. sperry said

    I’m wondering how strongly opinions are determined by whether or not you like the player. I think the world of Rafa, and will say what he does is dead wrong. I don’t see how anyone can condone it in any context. Furthermore, to say, “let’s move on” seems almost like it comes from fear. Like, there is no other defense you can offer, so let’s drop it.

    • M said

      Sperry, it’s really not a question of fear. It’s a question of boredom.

      In part, because the ATP, by dint of its action in some circumstances like this, and inaction in other circumstances like this, has apparently decided it’s too difficult to enforce this “rule” consistently.
      I put “rule” in quotes because part of the problem also appears to be that the ATP has not defined the actions that constitute on-court coaching in a manner so as to make the rule against it consistently enforceable.

      You also have the problem of observation, and interpretation of the observation. Did it really happen? Did the umpire see it? Did the umpire see what s/he thinks s/he saw? And how is the determination as to whether or not what the umpire observed accurate? And who determines it?

      And how much time is all *that* going to take …?

      Furthermore, it’s not really clear why such a rule was enacted in the first place. It may very well be that apparently violations of the rule are overlooked because those making the determination determine in their moment of judgment that whatever policy the rule has been made to serve, that policy hasn’t been infringed upon even if the letter of the rule has been violated.

      (And this is in the umpire’s judgment, I reiterate. Unless you’re a type of fan who says “Well, the umpire’s judgment should always be re-evaluated/second-guessed”. And then I ask again – by whom? And is that person/entity’s judgment the final judgment? And most of all, *why*?)

      But a lot of fans don’t look at the actual reasoning behind putting a rule in place. They just run around like mulish lemmings saying “The player violated a rule! So they should be punished!” No examination of whether or not the rule itself makes any sense in the current context of the game.

      On the heels of that, too, some fans are sufficiently rapacious and/or interested in their anti-favorites, if you will, being warned, punished, stripped of their titles, what have you … when if you force them to examine what they think should happen if one of their favorites exhibited such behavior, or received what they’d certainly call ‘compromising information’ if it was received by one of their anti-favorites – or, better yet, compare the circumstances of their anti-favorites to situations which actually *did* occur when their favorites did something similar, but yet also went unpunished … you get a lot of mumbling, or sheepish grinning, or rationalization as to why, in the fan’s eyes, that conduct is acceptable in the second circumstance (but somehow not in the first 🙄 ). Did the favorite “get away with it”? Or is the favorite’s conduct simply above reproach, as far as the fan is concerned – even though they did, for qualitative purposes, the exact same thing …?

      So my ultimate conclusion is that, for whatever reason – a substantial portion of which I believe comes down to the difficulty of consistent and fair enforceability when practically every single case looks different – the ATP and their umpires have determined (for the most part, which is where we get all this gush and flutter, when one player gets punished but another does not) that what some frothing fans might deem “on court coaching”, they – the people whose judgment in these matters matters at the end of the day – appear to have decided that such arguable actions fall within the realm of gamesmanship, and as such apparently *don’t* rank high on their list of things to deal with in the ongoing administration of the matches and tournaments.

      *Now* can we move on?

      • sperry said

        Strange. I don’t write 20 minutes about things that bore me. So I don’t know what to think about your response. (We can move on as long as you get the last word? I don’t say that in anger. Just curious.) If the rule needs changing, change it. My PREFERENCE would be to enforce the existing rule (and your points about the difficulty in that are well taken…perhaps it is essentially impossible to do so), but I don’t really care. Personally, I like throwing ideas around, and as long as people are still tossing around fresh ideas (“ah…there’s the rub,” says M… “there are no fresh ideas.” But, my friend, you have just provided us with a bunch of them), what the hell. Keep it rolling. If you are bored, don’t click on the thread.

      • M said

        It’s not boredom with the concept. It’s boredom with the continual bickering about the concept with no end in sight given this variable

        “to enforce the existing rule (and your points about the difficulty in that are well taken…perhaps it is essentially impossible to do so”

        and that, imo, there are other much more interesting things to look at and discuss.

        “If you are bored, don’t click on the thread.”

        Well, if you notice, I *did* refrain from doing so till you made the assertion that saying “let it drop” was essentially a fear-based suggestion. I just felt like presenting some reasons why I felt that wasn’t the case.

        That’s allowed, right …?

        ““ah…there’s the rub,” says M… “there are no fresh ideas.””

        I think anyone can read in my response that I didn’t say that.

        “I don’t write 20 minutes about things that bore me.”

        It didn’t take me 20 minutes. 😕

        “but I don’t really care”

        Seems like a lot of text work (20 minutes or so? 😛 ) for someone that doesn’t really care.

        “Personally, I like throwing ideas around”

        By all means, knock yourself out. *looks around* I don’t see anyone stopping you.

      • claire said

        I think it’s worth discussing when the article was in a reputable Spanish newspaper. Regarding translation of the article, I don’t think a newspaper/magazine would print that type of information if it wasn’t translated correctly – I’m sure it was translated by a trusted person! If it wasn’t translated correctly – I would think Nadal would consider suing for slander – something like this is not good for his reputation!
        In the article, Nadal admitted to cheating soo you can’t say the exchanges on the court were interpreted incorrectly

  8. chipnputt said

    Sorry, wrote in the wrong place. This belongs here.

    I agree, Sperry. There is opinion and there is fact. The fact is Rafa has received on court coaching. And the fact is it is against the rules. No matter how someone may try to spin it, these are facts and not a matter of opinion. Opinion only comes in later, as in how one reacts to Rafa’s rule violation. And, as you point out, that bit depends on how much you like/dislike a player and, I think, how you believe sport should be played.

    • Jenny said

      Absolutely against the rules and if it is blatant and spotted by the umpire or court official, then they should be warned, no question, no matter who it is.

    • ClayBuster said

      Very well said. I think the word “cheating” is bit too harsh (and I don’t think it would have mattered re: the outcome of the match at all – Rafa is the deserved winner of USO 2010), but it happened, and it’s against the rules, however one tries to come up for the ‘defence’ – period.

      The main problem is, however, that the umps fail to enforce the rules (especially when it comes to the Big Stars ‘bending’ them – I don’t think that’s a coincidence), for whatever reason (I have my thoughts about that, yes). Any person with a little bit of legal training knows that when rules aren’t being enforced, people/players will run away with them, perhaps even subconsciously.

      The ATP/ITF should take notice: either enforce the rules of the game, or abandon them altogether. You can’t have it both ways, with different ‘rules’ applying to different players, which is what is happening right now.

      • Jenny said

        Agreed ClayBuster. I have a problem with some umpires inconsistency, because it seems to me, there’s one rule for one or if the face fits, and that applies to relatively minor misdemeanours.

  9. Bettyjane said

    Merriam-Webster definition of gamesmanship:

    : the art or practice of winning games by questionable expedients without actually violating the rules
    : the use of ethically dubious methods to gain an objective

    Well applying that definition to what’s going on here can’t apply here since he “IS” violating the rules, or if it makes you feel better, Uncle Toni is violating the rules and Rafa is being victimized by this.

    • Jenny said

      Exactly, Bettyjane. These coaches who feel inclined to follow this route aren’t doing their player any favours at all and should stop forthwith, because it’s the player who gets penalised on court together with bad publicity off it. Actually, I’d like to see coaches warned too, they would soon stop that nonsense.

      • ClayBuster said

        Spot-on. And it would be so easy to deal with those coaches – first offence, a warning; second, penalizing of the player; third, send off the coach out of the player’s box immediately, and perhaps prohibit him to be there at the upcoming three tournaments or so.

        But for some obscure reason, nobody at the ATP/ITF seems to care about it.

  10. Andy said

    Chipnputt makes some good points here. The 20 second time violation thing is also a fact, as is the slower grass at Wimbledon. The time violation thing also constitutes “cheating” by the way.

    BUT, as Chipnputt suggests, the reaction to these things is in the eye of the beholder. This particular “beholder” doesn’t happen to like some of them, but also doesn’t happen to believe that they should be given so much weight so as to disqualify Rafa from being called an unbelievably great, tremendous, awe-inspiring tennis player, and yes, maybe one day the greatest of the greats. These things should be given some weight in the analysis of Rafa’s career, sure, but only a reasonable amount of weight (which is not as much as some people out there think).

    Also, it always must be remembered that there is cheating, such as minor infractions like this coaching thing (which quite arguably is a stupid rule anyway) and then there is CHEATING, such as major infractions like a player taking performance-enhancing drugs (which would be a violation of a rule that clearly makes sense and should be in place). The latter justifies the label “cheater” far more than the former, which arguably only justifies a label like “a player who doesn’t always follow the letter of law” or if you prefer a shorter form phrase for this, a “rule bender.”

  11. chipnputt said

    Toni being responsible was a good excuse before this article in El Pais. The article states that Rafa asked for and received strategic advice. That means the responsibility is entirely Rafa’s. Incidentally, it was always entirely Rafa’s responsibility. The way a golfer is responsible for his caddy’s behavior, a tennis player is responsible of his box’s behavior. If Toni doesn’t listen, keep in him in the hotel. If you put him in your box, you are responsible for coaching. No excuses.

  12. Haya said

    This is CHEATNG!! Period!

  13. Kathleen said

    Are the judge and jury out yet?, or is it still possible to offer evidence for the defence?

    Posted by Mr Rick 09/19/2010 01.36pm

    “His face was beet red the last couple of points of the match, he was probably in “out of body” stage by that point, and it would have been understandable if he had plain forgotten how to serve, let alone where to serve, at that final moment.

    But I was sitting above Rafa’s team and I saw no coaching during that point or the match and he did not seem to look at his team all that much except after winning a point ”….html#comments

    Posted by Steve 09/19/2010 at 12:38 PM

    “The press section at the open, where i was sitting at the end, is in the opposite corner from where toni and company were sitting, and where nadal was serving at the time. i didn’t notice anything.

    He was clearly nervous in the game before, when he over hit a backhand at 15-30 that could have given him two match points (i think that was the score, not sure). and like he said, he was nervous on his serve in the final game. but that was all to be expected, considering how close he was to winning the open, and how well djokovic had played”….html#comments

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