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Tennis

Nadal slams Djokovic over ‘strange’ Olympics meltdown and warns rival he is role model to ‘many children’

RAFAEL NADAL has criticised Novak Djokovic for his Olympics meltdown last week.

The Serbian threw one racket into the stands during his Bronze Medal match with Nadal’s Spanish compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, while he violently smashed another in anger during his 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 defeat.

Rafael Nadal is back in action this week in Washington
Novak Djokovic smashed his racket in Tokyo

Djokovic‘s latest meltdown came against the same opponent that he was defaulted against at last year’s US Open.

And speaking ahead of his participation in Washington’s Citi Open this week, Nadal admitted that he would expect better behaviour from a world No1.

The 35-year-old said: “Luckily there were no people in the stands and nothing else happened, but hey, they are things that happen from time to time.

“You have to try to avoid them. The image is not the best.

“It is important to avoid this, especially as a role model for many children. He is the No1 in the world and one of best in history.

“It’s strange that someone so successful reacts this way from time to time, but in the end he’s very competitive and reacts like that.”

Djokovic, 34, did apologise for his antics after the match, saying: “I am sorry for sending this kind of message.”

But the incident capped a sorry week for the 20-time major winner – who saw his hopes of winning a historic ‘Golden Slam’ end in tatters.

He will now dust himself down and re-calibrate ahead of the US Open, with the possibility of a first career calendar Grand Slam haul still beckoning.

Standing in his way, however, could be Nadal, with the former world No1 making his return to the tour this week.

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The four-time US Open winner was last seen being beaten by Djokovic at Roland Garros, having missed Wimbledon and the Olympics due to injury.

But he is set to be back in the mix in Flushing Meadows, having since returned to full health.

Nadal is expected to take to the court in DC on Wednesday, when he’ll play either home hopeful Jack Sock or talented Japanese star Yoshihito Nishioka.

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Nadal, 35 has been off the tour since losing to Djokovic at Roland Garros

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