Rafael Nadal expecting lengthy wait before tennis returns
MADRID (AFP): Rafael Nadal thinks the global nature of tennis means there is little chance tournaments will go ahead any time soon as sport continues to be paralysed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Novak Djokovic also anticipates a lengthy delay before tennis can be played even behind closed doors, with the world number one expecting players to have to wait a "few months".
The French Open, which Nadal has won a record 12 times, has been postponed until September, shortly after the US Open, while Wimbledon was cancelled earlier this month for the first time since World War II.
But the prospect of either grand slams at Roland Garros or Flushing Meadows being played with fans appears increasingly remote.
"Tennis is a global sport," Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero on Wednesday night. "We go from country to country and a lot of people have to move around.
"It seems difficult to me for any big tournament to be played in the short or medium term."
Football's major leagues are preparing to play behind closed doors for several weeks to complete their seasons and avoid losing considerable sums of money from broadcasting contracts.
But tennis tournaments are more reliant on fans for their income, making it more complicated to stage competitions in empty stadiums.
"It is not an easy decision," Djokovic told the same programme. "I am ready but I think we have to wait a few months."
"If you could play behind closed doors, I would be delighted but I think it's very difficult," added Nadal.
“I’m coping with it better now than three weeks ago. Although we have been in confinement for longer and the situation is what it is, we human beings adapt to what we have to. Without a doubt, we are capable of that.”
“At the beginning of it all, the events happening were so terrible that it made it difficult to want to do anything. I had a week in which I was practising sport but without much interest. I was sad, of course, and in some ways lethargic. I found it hard to find the energy to get up and do things that helped me feel better. It really was getting very difficult.”
“I was in front of the television all day, listening to what they were telling us and there was nothing positive. I found it difficult to isolate myself from all that. As the days have gone by, little by little I’ve returned to my routines, doing fitness training in the morning and afternoon, and thinking positively.”
“There are a lot of people that are really struggling. We are as well as can be expected and there is no reason at all to be negative. Only to try, in some way, to help and contribute as far as our means allow us. We have to help the people that are really struggling, which is not us.”
“I don’t have any courts at home and I’m not that worried about it. In the situation we’re going through, the thing that worries me the least at the moment is tennis. I’m doing work at home so that my body doesn’t atrophy more than it already may have. From there, I’m very aware of the fact that this is very serious, that it is long-term and there are so many people that are suffering a really terrible reality. The least important thing at this time is sport.”