Rafael Nadal's conqueror Jiri Lehecka slams 'weird' Madrid request Spaniard received

Lehecka weighs in on Pedro Cachin asking Nadal for a souvenir following their Madrid match.

by Dzevad Mesic
Rafael Nadal's conqueror Jiri Lehecka slams 'weird' Madrid request Spaniard received
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Jiri Lehecka says he is not someone who will criticize Pedro Cachin for his Madrid Open act but the Czech tennis player also added that he thought the Argentinian's request to Rafael Nadal was "weird" and that he personally would never do that after the match. 

On Tuesday, 29-year-old Cachin played the biggest match of his career when he got a chance to play against 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal on Manolo Santana Stadium in the Madrid third round. Against Nadal, world No. 91 Cachin was able to play some decent tennis and even take a set off the Spaniard but ultimately lost 1-6 7-6 (5) 3-6. 

When Nadal sealed a win over Cachin, the crowd went wild as the former world No. 1 passionately celebrated his win. When the two players came to the net to shake hands, Cachin respectfully asked Nadal if he could give him something as a souvenir - the Spaniard made that a reality by giving him a shirt. 

“Thank you very much! You’ve made my dream come true, thank you. I don’t know if this is protocol or not, but I wanted to ask you, could I keep your shirt or a towel or something?” Cachin asked Nadal at the net.

Pedro Cachin and Rafael Nadal
Pedro Cachin and Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

The moment drew attention and quickly went viral and that led to many people sharing their thoughts on the situation. While the majority of people thought Cachin's act was humble and done in a polite way, some criticized the Argentinian - arguing that as a competitor he should not have done it moments after losing a match. 

Lehecka on Cachin's request to Nadal: 'Weird'

After overcoming the Cachin test, Nadal returned to the court and Wednesday to take on 22-year-old Lehecka. Lehecka, ranked at No. 31 in the world, remained unfazed in front of a sold-out Madrid crowd cheering for Nadal as he defeated the Spaniard 7-5 6-4 in their first-ever meeting. 

Following his win, Lehecka called Nadal "a legend" and described the whole experience as "a dream come true" and something amazing. But Lehecka didn't ask Nadal for souvernirs or anything like that. And reporters wanted to know Lehecka's take on the Cachin request to Nadal

“I don't know. Maybe, I don't know, it's tough for me to say, because I went on the court to win, you know,” Lehecka said.

“When you go on the court and you go there for the win, then it's tough for me to run after him and to ask him for some things, you know, if he can give me something. Because I don't really know, I don't want to sound disrespectful something, that's the last thing I would like to, but if you are playing a match and you are thinking about asking the guy to give you something, then, I mean, why you are there?

“It's kind of weird, in my opinion. I mean, everyone can have his own opinion on this thing. I totally respect what Pedro did. It's absolutely fine for me. I have zero problem with it. But for me I would not do such a thing.”

Rafael Nadal and Jiri Lehecka
Rafael Nadal and Jiri Lehecka © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Lehecka: I asked Nadal for a photo but after our practice

Before Madrid started and talented Czech Lehecka got a chance to play Nadal for the first time, he practiced with the Spanish tennis icon at Caja Magica. After the practice ended, Lehecka asked Nadal for a selfie. For Lehecka, a post-practice selfie with Nadal was a reasonable thing but adds that asking the Spaniard or anyone else for a shirt post-match is just not something he feels he would do.

“I would do this maybe after the whole tournament, after, I don't know, when I see him somewhere, just asking for a photo like I did after our practice," Lehecka explained. 

“This is what I did, because of course I didn't know if I would have a chance to play with him again or if we would play a match together. That's why I asked Rafa to take a picture with me after our practice earlier this week. But if we are speaking about him giving me a T-shirt, I mean, I don't know, I just don't go into a match with these kind of intentions, and I just have different approach in this thing.”

Jiri Lehecka
Jiri Lehecka © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Against Nadal, the key moment came late in the first set and early in the second set as they were tied to five games apiece in the opening set before the Czech tennis player went on to win four games in a row and open a 7-5 2-0 lead. Up by a set and a break, Lehecka just held on to his serve for the remainder of the match to complete a two-set win over Nadal.

Rafael Nadal Jiri Lehecka Pedro Cachin