Rafael Nadal Brisbane
Spain's Rafael Nadal changes his shirt as he takes a break at the Brisbane International Patrick HAMILTON/AFP News

Rafael Nadal gave an epic reply after he received a bizarre time violation as he reached the quarter-final at Brisbane International on Thursday.

Nadal, who had not played a competitive match for nearly a year due to injury before this week in Brisbane, started the tournament with a thumping victory over Dominic Thiem. Picking off from where he left off, Nadal thrashed Australia's Jason Kubler 6-1, 6-2 in the Round of 16.

Continuing his impressive comeback to the ATP circuit, Nadal needed just 83 minutes to go past 30-year-old Kubler at the Pat Rafter Arena in Tennyson, a southern riverside suburb in Brisbane.

At the end of the opening set on Thursday, Nadal went for a toilet break. While players are permitted to take breaks to answer nature's call, they must return to the court within a fixed time. Even as Kubler waited, ready to begin the second set with his serve, Nadal was still nowhere to be seen.

The chair umpire and even the commentators waited for the 37-year-old, who then rushed out onto the court with a bag in hand. Nadal was all smiles as the crowd cheered for him. However, that smile disappeared when the umpire informed him that he would receive a code violation.

A confused Nadal tried to explain but it appeared to be of no use. As he prepared to face the serve, the umpire announced a time violation warning for being "a little bit late on his way back from the toilet".

Hearing that, Nadal could not control his laughter as he and the crowd broke into giggles. After the game ended, the 22-time Grand Slam champion addressed the time violation he received for overstaying his toilet break.

Watch: Nadal's hilarious interview about time violation

During the post-match on-court interview, the crowd burst into laughter when Nadal was asked to elaborate upon the episode. The tennis icon joked saying Brisbane is humid which made him "change every piece" of his clothing. Nadal also broke into laughter along with the crowd.

"I think it was something strange because I know I had 5 minutes. Honestly, Brisbane is very humid. I had to change every single piece, which takes a while.

"In the walkie-talkie, they were calling me. 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, half a minute. I came out at the right time. But probably the guy who was with me, they said I was a few seconds late to the umpire. He told me I was four seconds late. I don't know, I thought I was on time, honestly. Then he told me I was four seconds late. I don't know if it was me," a jovial Nadal said.

Nadal, who sealed the game in straight sets to reach the quarter-final at Brisbane International, added he would improve his time management this season. "But I'm slow, I know that. I'm going to keep trying to improve in 2024," said Nadal.

The Spaniard struck 20 winners, including some ripping forehands, and made only eight unforced errors against Kubler.

The former World No. 1 lost only one point in his first three service games. While a double fault meant facing three break points, Nadal overturned it by clinching five straight points for the first set.

Rafa Nadal: Surgery isn't bothering me at all

Meanwhile, Nadal also ensured that the surgery he had on the iliac psoas and hip isn't "bothering" him, which is a good sign ahead of the Australian Open.

"The positive thing is the first two matches haven't been super-long matches. Of course, I had some feelings after the first match. I mean, (it has) been a year without playing with the tension of a real match, so I felt a little bit some muscles tired here and there.

"In general terms, I felt good. The important thing is the surgery on the psoas-iliac and the hip, that's not bothering me at all. That's something that is super-important for me," said Nadal.

Nadal will take on another Aussie, Jordan Thompson, in the quarter-finals of ATP 250 Brisbane International on Friday.