Rafael Nadal took just 72 minutes to make a winning start at the Monte Carlo Masters, but the world No 1 was still not quick enough for the umpire. Pascal Maria infuriated Nadal by giving him a time violation for taking too long between points during his 6-4, 6-1 victory over Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili.
Players are allowed 25 seconds between points on the men's tour, which is five seconds more than they are granted at Grand Slam events. Umpires have cracked down on slow play in recent years and Nadal has been one of those to suffer. The Spaniard has frequently been criticised for the time he takes as he goes through his pre-serving routines.
Maria penalised Nadal when he served at 4-0 and 30-40 in the second set. The world No 1 was clearly unhappy about the decision and went on to drop his serve when he hit a forehand long. After some finger-pointing at the umpire, nevertheless, he came out and won the next two games to complete his victory.
Nadal, who also dropped his serve at the start of the match as the aggressive Gabashvili made a flying start, is attempting to win the Monte Carlo title for the ninth time. His run of eight successive victories at the tournament ended when he lost to Novak Djokovic in last year's final.
Roger Federer also got off to a winning start, beating Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-2 in just under an hour. The former world No 1 made a late decision to take a wild card this week, perhaps anticipating that he will need to miss a tournament in the coming weeks to be at the birth of his third child.
Federer, who has not disclosed the date when his wife Mirka is expecting, has not missed a Grand Slam tournament since 1999 but hinted that he would even contemplate withdrawing from the French Open, which starts on 25 May.
"We're just waiting – it's a priority for me trying to be there, trying to support my wife," he said. "I've played enough tennis matches. Missing a tournament or missing a match wouldn't change anything for me."
Stanislas Wawrinka, who has replaced Federer as Swiss No 1, played his best match since winning the Australian Open three months ago as he destroyed Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-2 in just 45 minutes. Wawrinka, who dropped only seven points in taking the first set in 18 minutes, has not reached a quarter-final since his Melbourne triumph.
Meanwhile, Laura Robson could be a doubtful starter for the French Open and even Wimbledon because of continuing problems with a wrist injury. The 20-year-old Briton has not played for three months and has now pulled out of two more tournaments, in Morocco next week and in Madrid early next month.
Having reached a career-high position at No 27 in the world rankings last summer, Robson is now down to No 64 as a result of her inactivity.
Judy Murray, Britain's Fed Cup captain, said she did not know when Robson would return. "You can't rush that kind of injury," Murray said. "Psychologically it's a difficult one because everything in tennis goes through your wrist."Reuse content