"I gonna sue her," says Rafael Nadal of France's former sports minister

"I gonna sue her," says Rafael Nadal of France's former sports minister

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – "I gonna sue her, and I gonna sue everyone who gonna comment something similar in the future, because I am tired of that."

Fighting words from tennis star Rafael Nadal after a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Gilles Muller of Luxembourg Sunday night at the Paribas Open.

"I have been working so much since I have five years old, all my career, to have the success that I had, and always with the right way, always practicing with passion, with intensity, with love for the game," he added. "In the past I didn't want to ... sue the people who said these things, because I didn't (think) that they were serious. But a minister of France should be serious."

Nadal should have been in a relatively joyous mood, having managed to eke out a much-needed victory on a night where the wind made it difficult to play anyone, let alone a fellow lefthander with a lot of experience and whose serve-volley style was almost easier to execute in the tough conditions.

But he was angry. Nadal was firm in defending himself as a clean athlete Thursday as he commented on the Maria Sharapova positive doping test. But it quickly got back to the Nadal family after Sharapova's Monday announcement that former French minister of health, youth affairs and sport Roselyne Bachelot, who held several ministerial positions before turning to a media career a few years ago, had publicly pointed the finger at him.

"We know that Rafael Nadal's infamous injury, when he stopped for seven months, was certainly due to a positive doping test. When you see a tennis player who stops for months, it's because he tested positive and they're covered by the 'law of silence' ... Not every time, of course, but very often," Bachelot said on a French program called "Le Grand 8" – their version of the American talk show "The View".

Doping innuendo about the Mallorcan star has been around for years; Nadal has been consistent throughout, vehemently stating on several occasions that he is a clean athlete, who does things "the right way", and that any such accusations are an attack on his personal integrity as a sportsman.

The Sharapova situation has obviously brought all this centre stage again.

Nadal's uncle and coach Toni, who is not in Indian Wells with his nephew, brought up the likelihood of a lawsuit last Thursday in a radio interview, saying Nadal's lawyer was already looking into it and that Bachelot was "an idiot."

But uncle Toni says a lot of things; Nadal's confirmation, and his anger, left no doubt about the question.

Bachelot backed off, sort of, in a statement to Ouest France Friday that said she was only going by what others have already stated.

"I'm flattered by the interest in my comments from Mr. Nadal. I was simply echoing the comments widely stated in the tennis world, and in the media. Newspapers like Le Monde or L'Équipe, executives like (French Davis Cup captain) Yannick Noah have accused him of doping. Players have characterized this as a widely-used practice; Austrian player (Dani) Koellerer (and others) have declared that it's 'impossible that Nadal and (David) Ferrer haven't doped.' I don't recall those statements causing such a huge stir," she wrote.