If you thought Virat Kohli is the only sportsperson whose personal life is discussed or talked about in relation to his game, you are wrong. In a dramatic press-conference scene, Rafael Nadal, after he had lost his first group stage match in the ATP World Tour Finals to Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-4, was asked a question that seemed to anger the 19-time Grand Slam winner.
An Italian journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta asked Nadal whether his concentration on the game of tennis has suffered due to his marriage with long-time girlfriend Mery Perello last month.
"I'd like to know if somehow your concentration on tennis life has been a bit different even if you were going out with the same girl for many, many years?" the reporter queried.
The response from the Spaniard was one oozing with surprise and anger. "Honestly, are you asking me this? Is (it) a serious question or is (it) a joke? Is it serious?"
He then told the reporter why he felt that the question was inappropriate. "I'm surprised I'm asked this after I've been with the same girl for 15 years and having a very stable and normal life. It doesn't matter if you put a ring on your finger or not. In my personal way, I'm a very normal guy."
He then put an end to the entire conversation by saying: "Let's move to Spanish because that's bull***t."
Nadal, who has never been known to lose his cool on the court or off it, has experience in dealing with questions which he finds irritating. During the Wimbledon earlier this year, when the former champion was asked by a reporter whether the scheduling of his match on centre court during the fourth round, while the then women's singles' world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty was having to play on Court 2, was an act of sexist discrimination, he gave a short and strong reply.
"I am the world No 2 and I won 18 grand slams," Rafa said. When the journalist persisted, the 12-time French Open champion went further. "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 ... But we can't create polemics every single day about decisions that they have to take."
The US Open champion will next play Daniil Medvedev. After the loss to Zverev, that match becomes important.