World No.2 Rafael Nadal has cautiously confirmed that he will head to the French open later this year to defend his title once again.
Nadal, who has won the clay-court major a record 12 times, will have to wait until September to play at Roland Garros due to the ongoing suspension of the Tour due to COVID-19. Officials originally planned to host the event between the end of May and June. Instead, it is currently scheduled to get underway on September 27th with final plans concerning the tournament yet to be finalized.
Speaking to French radio over the weekend Nadal has insisted that he will only play at the event as long as it is safe to do so and the conditions are the same for all players. It is still unclear as to how many fans will be able to attend the event with French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli saying he wanted ‘as many as possible.’ However, the final decision will be up to the government.
“I do not see the future from a professional point of view, but from a medical and health point of view,” the Spaniard said.
“As for Roland Garros, if it is possible to play in optimal conditions and in total safety, if everyone can play, if we are all together, yes, I will be there. But today we have to take precautions and be responsible with the right decisions to guarantee the safety and health of everyone in tennis.”
Nadal faces a potentially critical period later this year should the US Open get underway in September ahead of the French open as planned. As the defending champion at both of those events, he will be tasked with defending a total of 4000 points within five weeks. A far from ideal scenario for anybody.
Although it could be expected that if push comes to shove, Nadal would most likely favor the French Open over the other given his emphatic record. In Roland Garros, he has only ever been defeated twice. Losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015. Overall he has a win-loss record of 93-2 at the event.
It is currently unclear as to when the Tour will get going again with all professional tournaments either suspended or canceled until at least July 31st. When play resumes, one possibility is that the action could take place behind closed doors to follow suit to other sports. Although Nadal admits that the situation will be less than ideal for him.
“It is possible. Football is being played behind closed doors. But if you ask me if I like it, the answer is no. Nothing can replace the presence of the public and the energy it generates.” He stated.
On the upside, Nadal is slowly returning to practice thanks to relaxation in lockdown rules in his native Spain. He aims to be fully ready for the resumption of the tour whenever that will occur.
“I feel good. Like the rest, I have not been able to leave the house in two months. Luckily, I had weight training machines at home to train and keep myself physically fit,” Nadal commented on his current fitness routine.
“Little by little I have resumed training several days a week, but not all seven. It has been a gradual and very slow recovery that we have done with care and caution. The objective is to be ready for the day when we return to play tennis, but we still don’t know that. “
Nadal started 2020 with a win-loss record of 13-3 before the Tour suspension.