Jiri Lehecka slams Pedro Cachin for asking for Rafael Nadal's shirt

Lehecka says he wouldn't have been like Cachin.
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Jiri Lehecka was trying to be nice about the issue. He even said he meant no disrespect to Pedro Cachin. But what was clear in a post-match press conference - a press conference that followed a match in which Lehecka had just defeated Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Masters - was that Lehecka would have never done what Cachin had done after losing to Nadal earlier in the tournament.

What happened was that after Cachin lost to Nadal in straight sets, and as the two players met at the net, Cachin asked Nadal for a shirt. The Argentine said to the Spaniard, "You made my dream come true. Can I have your shirt?" Nadal obliged and went to his bag, grabbed a fresh shirt, and gave it to Cachin.

There is a lot to unpack with that, of course. Nadal is nearing the end of his career and he is an all-time great, arguably among the top three players to ever pick up a racket. There is no real shame, generally speaking, in an opponent asking for a shirt from the icon after a match. After all, Nadal is the kind of player that an opponent tells their grandchildren they played. If you have a shirt Nadal gave you, even better.

Jiri Lehecka has an issue with Pedro Cachin asking for Rafael Nadal's shirt

But Lehecka has an excellent point that simply playing Nadal, or any other all-time great player, is simply not enough. A professional tennis player should be enough of a competitor that the player wants to beat the all-time great. Now that would be a story to tell one's grandchildren.

Cachin has received some criticism for asking for Nadal's shirt because he was being more of a fan instead of an opponent. His action implied he was more in awe of Nadal than approaching the match in a way that he believed he could defeat the Spaniard. This is the issue Lehecka spoke about in the post-match press conference when he was asked about the Cachin-Nadal situation.

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...I don't want to sound disrespectful or 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..."

At least Lehecka did try to go out of his way not to offend Cachin, but would Cachin have asked for Nadal's shirt had he beaten the Spaniard? Or would he have told Nadal that it was a "dream come true"? Likely not. That might have seemed disrespectful to Nadal.

But Cachin also disrespected himself by possibly not coming into the match thinking he could win. He is a good player with the potential to beat anyone on clay. He just never really gave himself a chance mentally, it seems.

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