WASHINGTON, May 6, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal isn’t optimistic about playing tennis again this year. At age 33, the Spanish native who is at home in Porto Cristo, Mallorca, realizes that losing a year from his tennis life isn’t an easy thing to forget. “My feeling – and I say it sadly, I won’t lie to you – is that we’re losing a year of our lives. And at 33, 34 years-old, that is more valuable than at 20, when you have a lot more (years) ahead.”
Nadal sat for a Skype interview with Spanish-language daily newspaper El País, released on Tuesday, where he discussed the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on Spain as well as his own career.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal was asked about his chances of playing again this year. “I hope so, but I don’t think so unfortunately,” he said. “I would take being ready for 2021. I’m more concerned with the Australian Open than what happens later this year. I see 2020 as practically lost.”
When Nadal, who is the reigning French Open and US Open champion, was asked whether he would choose to play the US Open or Roland Garros, which because of the coronavirus lockdown of the pro tennis tours and subsequent unilateral moving of the French Open to a late September starting date soon after the completion of the US Open, he said: “It’s all hypothetical, I don’t think it will be like that.”
Speaking about his home country of Spain, Nadal expressed: “A very tough economic and social situation is coming, in which many people are going to suffer. Many are going to lose their jobs and help from all sectors, labor and business, the government … We must all be in solidarity.
“The crisis has overwhelmed us all, but we are a great country.”
Rafa Nadal: “Viene una situación económica y social muy dura, en la que va a sufrir mucha gente. Muchos van a perder sus empleos y se debe ayudar desde todos los sectores, laborales y empresariales, el Gobierno… Todos debemos ser solidarios” https://t.co/f6RrceJDK2
— EL PAÍS (@el_pais) May 5, 2020
Todd Martin: Putting US Open together may prove too much
Todd Martin, chief executive of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, told Tennis365 earlier this week he suspects this year’s US Open may need to be cancelled. He suggested that the logistics required to stage a two-week Grand Slam in lieu of the novel coronavirus pandemic may prove too much for the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) to go forward.
Martin, a former World No. 4 who reached 1999 US Open during his playing career, said that staging the US Open without spectators may not be a practical option.
“I don’t imagine it is possible,” said Martin, who is the tournament director of the International Tennis Hall of Fame tournament in Newport, Rhode Island. “I served on the USTA board for six years and while there is always a way to consider putting on a different event, when you are talking about a massive core of your revenue stream going away (without spectators) it’s going to be tough.
“Also, you don’t know what the impact would be on sponsorship, as they expect a lot of hospitality for their clients when they sponsor the event, so there is a lot of revenue there that will be lost.
“That is before you get to thinking about how you bring an international player into a tennis center that is currently being used as a temporary hospital and how do you then get them back out of New York? How do you secure them and protect all of them when they share such confined spaces? The locker room at the US Open is massive, but it is not big enough.
“There is just so much to understand and plan for and I hope they can do it at some point because I’d love to see some tennis and see our sport rise to the occasion, but we have to make the most practical decision for health and safety.
“We also need to make a decision that helps us to have a sustainable future and one stand-alone tournament does not lead us in that direction.”
Behind The Racquet – Laura Siegemund
“Throughout my whole career I thought it was as simple as one plus one. If you put in hard work and don’t give up, you will be successful at some point,” writes Germany’s Laura Siegemund in a recent first-person essay for the Instagram series Behind The Racquet. “It’s not that easy though. I have always worked very hard to achieve my goals however for a long time fell short of my aspirations. I was a very ambitious kid and looking back probably needed someone to help me with the demands and challenges of professional sport. It would have been helpful if someone had tempered and guided my ambition and enthusiasm rather than allowing me to push myself to the limit.”
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“Throughout my whole career I thought it was as simple as one plus one. If you put in hard work and don’t give up, you will be successful. It’s not true. I worked my a** off and didn’t get what I wanted. It wasn’t nothing, but not how I summarized success. I was a very ambitious kid and looking back probably needed someone to tell me when to hold back rather than to push me. In my mid 20’s, at the end of 2012, I decided to quit the professional tour for some time. It was a very unhappy time for me. I was burnt out. I just felt the need to take a step back. I started to teach tennis which gave me a completely different perspective. At that time I decided I didn’t want to put myself in that much pain and unhappiness again, which is the tour. I was still playing tennis during this break, but it was for me, no one else. I was seeing tennis differently not just from this competitive angle. I played some club tennis matches in Germany for fun and some extra money. I slowly got back into tennis, but mentally it was something I did on the side of my studies. It wasn’t until 2015, when I qualified for Wimbledon where I thought I should get back into it. It was a dream to play main draw of a Grand Slam and here I was with that chance. I had a few tough setbacks with injuries and other situations. I always try too hard to reach for success or improvement. I put crazy stress on myself that actually prevents movement forward. I am not sure if this will ever go away in my tennis career or even my life. To learn to put in the hard work but also to relax at times is nearly impossible for me. Everyday I try to understand that opening the door for success, besides running after it, will actually lead to better results. The moment I learned to let go even a little is when things flowed a bit better. This sport has a way of being addictive. Moving up the rankings, people cheering for you, all the fans in your corner, it’s amazing. The motivation to be in front of those great crowds, on those great courts, consistently, is what keeps players in this sport…” @laurasiegemund Read full story and others at behindtheracquet.com (link in bio @behindtheracquet )
What they’re saying
Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Wertheim offers some thoughts on what sets Roger Federer apart.
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) May 5, 2020
What they’re writing
• Christopher Clarey, tennis correspondent, The New York Times, from “Another Tennis Leader Supports Idea of Merging Women’s and Men’s Tours”: “After leaders of the men’s tennis tour, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, said they wanted to explore a merger with the women’s tennis circuit, the head of the Women’s Tennis Association has made it clear that the feeling is mutual.
“‘I’m not afraid of the full merger; I never have been,’ Steve Simon, the chief executive of the WTA, said by telephone on Monday in his first extensive comments on the ATP’s interest. ‘I would certainly be the first to support it, because I think then you truly have the business and the strategic principles all aligned, which is what you need to do. Obviously, it’s a long and winding road to get there, but I think it makes all the sense in the world.’”
• Stuart Fraser, tennis correspondent, The Times of London, from “I haven’t earned anything this year, says British No. 9 Jan Choinski”: “Jan Choinski is barely known in sporting circles in this country but his recent exploits will be the envy of many professional athletes. The 23-year-old British No. 9 is one of the very few people able to compete and earn prize money at a time when large parts of the world are on coronavirus lockdown.
“The sum of £435 for finishing third in the Tennis Point Exhibition Series in Germany last weekend will not go too far when it comes to covering Choinski’s bills, but it is not to be sniffed at in the present climate. Most tennis players are at home twiddling their thumbs, unable to practice on court because of social distancing measures.”
What they’re podcasting
The latest Racquet Magazine Podcast (@racquetmagazine) hosted by Rennae Stubbs features an interview with Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who’s been spending her lockdown time off dying her hair “baby pink” and going to the store in Spongebob pajamas.
What they’re sharing on social media
Australian Open / Grand Slam champions showing gratitude
Couple of 🇦🇺 Grand Slam champions showing gratitude to healthcare workers.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) May 5, 2020
Davis Cup / High fives for this lockdown rally
— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) May 5, 2020
Barbora Krejcikova / Missing Madrid
— Barbora Krejcikova (@BKrejcikova) May 4, 2020