In an interview with the New York Times, Rafael Nadal spoke candidly about his feelings on playing in tournaments amidst a global pandemic, and also the civil unrest in the United States. There’s still time for him to officially make his decision, regarding playing in the US Open — if it’s held — but the Spaniard said that he would not travel to New York today if the tournament was going on right now.
“Well, is not an ideal situation, honestly no,” Nadal reportedly said to journalists in a Zoom call. “If you ask me today if I want to travel today to New York to play a tennis tournament, I will say no, I will not.
“In a couple of months, I don’t know how the situation is going to improve. Hopefully, it’s going to improve the right way, and I’m sure the people who organize the event, the USTA, want a safe event, same like the French federation.”
Nadal, who won hisat last year’s event after defeating , brings up France because, were it not for the coronavirus pandemic, the end of the French Open would be happening right now, and Nadal would have likely been competing for a 13th title at Roland Garros. The competition has been tentatively rescheduled for late September or early October.
The United States Tennis Association has approached the likelihood of the tournament’s occurrence with cautious optimism, even going so far as to reveal a potential plan to get foreign players to New York safely, which included giving those players. For the moment, the tournament is scheduled to go as planned in its original late August start date.
“I am confident they will make the right decision in the right moment to make sure if the tournament is played it will be in safe circumstances,” Nadal said. “If not, in my opinion, it doesn’t make sense.”
But the disease wasn’t the only thing on the mind of Nadal, who returned to Majorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands, for a two-month lockdown and has since returned to limited on-court training. Reporters also asked the Spaniard about whether the protests against police brutality that were sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
“The situation has been very ugly for the last couple of days; when you see all this stuff, it’s terrible,” Nadal said. “I really hope that the country is able to control all this terrible situation that a lot of cities are living and be able to come back to a positive life respecting everybody and of course trying to live with peace. That’s the main thing.”
Nadal added that the ideal outcome for him is if the season continued only when every qualified player who wants to participate in these tournaments is able to do so. Currently, the ATP is operating under the assumption that certain players will not be allowed to be in these tournaments due to global travel restrictions made in response to COVID-19.
“We have a worldwide tour,” he said. “We need to be clear. We need to be responsible. We need to be sending a strong message, and we need to be a positive example for the society. We need to understand we are suffering an unprecedented situation, and my feeling is, we need to come back when all the players from all the countries of the world are able to travel and in safe circumstances.”
Still, the Spanish player said that he’d be willing to forego that principal if things resumed.