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John McEnroe has angrily lashed out at a journalist who accused him of claiming Rafael Nadal had ‘stained’ his legacy by accepting preferential treatment from umpires.

Following Nadal’s US Open first round win over Rinky Hijikata, a journalist told him that during TV commentary McEnroe had commented that Nadal does not get punished like other players for violating the serve-clock rule.

Nadal answered, explaining it might look worse on the giant show courts due to the distance players have to go to retrieve and use their towels. He also said he receives code violations for it, just like everyone else does.

The Spaniard then said he would seek out McEnroe to discuss his comments, and McEnroe is not happy about any of it

Asked by Eurosport about Nadal’s comments, McEnroe said: "Why did they [the journalist] throw me under the bus?

“We haven't had that talk but let me just add that… he didn’t let me finish, whoever the journalist was… Rafa Nadal is entitled to do whatever he wants. That’s part of why you get as good as [Nadal is]. You’ve got to deal with that. And it’s not up to him.”

Despite Nadal’s unhappiness at McEnroe’s comments, the fact is that the seven-time major winner is not the only one to have made a similar observation.

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Many fans believe Nadal is given special leniency by umpires as well, as do opponents. However, McEnroe believes the Spaniard does not even have a case to answer – it’s the umpires that do.

"We all know that he’s been doing this for the past 10 to 15 years,” McEnroe explained. “There's nothing new to that.

Rafael Nadal celebrates at US Open

“It’s not his call - it’s the umpires’. And by the way I think it’s BS anyway, that [rule]. No one pays attention to that. It should be automatic if you’re actually going to do it, right? And when do they turn it on? Is it at the end of the point? Is it when they get to the towel? Is it when the crowd comes down?

“Now Rafael Nadal thinks I’m saying his legacy’s been stained because he takes too much time. Jiminy Cricket [not true]!"

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