Rafael Nadal Says No To Playing US Open Today, Urges ATP To Resume Tour When Fair For All - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

Rafael Nadal Says No To Playing US Open Today, Urges ATP To Resume Tour When Fair For All

The king of clay has voiced his opinion on when the ATP Tour should start again as he sends a stark warning to the governing body of men’s tennis.

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19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has called upon the governing body of men’s tennis to lead by example when dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and warned against resuming the 2020 season too early in his strongest remarks yet.

 

All tennis tournaments have been either suspended or cancelled up until July 31st due to the worldwide health crises. Leaving officials pondering when and how the Tour will resume. Earlier this week it has been reported that players have been invited to a zoom call with the ATP next Wednesday where they are expected to put forward a schedule for the rest of the season. Although nothing has been made public yet.

One of the main sticking points is the US Open, where Nadal is the reigning champion. The United States Tennis Association has in recent weeks looked at numerous options ranging from holding it behind closed doors to even moving it to another location out of New York. A state which has recorded over 374,000 cases and 24,000 deaths related to the virus.

“It’s not an ideal situation. If you asked me today if I wanted to travel to New York and play I would say no,” Nadal told members of the International Tennis Writers Association on Thursday during a press conference on Zoom. “But in a couple of months I don’t know how the situation will improve. Hopefully it will be in the right way. I’m sure the people who organise the event, the USTA, want a safe event.’
“I am confident that they will make the right decision at the right moment. To be sure that if the tournament is going to be played, it will be under safe circumstances. If not, in my opinion, it doesn’t make sense. We need to be responsible.”

Should the Tour get going again, Nadal could face a tough six weeks of tennis with the French Open aiming to take place shortly after the New York major. Also the defending champion at Roland Garros, Nadal has a total of 4000 points to defend at those two events alone. French Open tournament director Guy Forget has recently told reporters that he is hoping to open it up to fans in some capacity as long as the government approves it.

“I admire the French federation for their positivity and that they want to move forward with their tournament. But today the situation is difficult to predict so we need to step back and see how it improves,” said Nadal.
“To come back when it will be safe to come back. For it to be safe and fair for everyone.”

It is also plausible the 34-year-old may opt to play one out of the two majors with him most likely favouring the clay-court grand slam that he has won a record 12 times. Asked directly what he would choose if he was in such a situation, he played down any speculation.

“I can’t predict much. I am just following the information. If a moment arrives where I have to decide, I will decide with my team about the things that are happening. If the moment arrives, we’re going to make decisions about what will be the best for my tennis, my future and my body.”

The Tour must respect all players

As pressure mounts for a decisive decision to be made regarding the remainder of the 2020 season, Nadal has issued his own stance on the matter. Saying that the Tour should be opened up to all players before it resumes. Tennis has the complexity of worldwide travel with players having to congregate in one place. To add to the difficulty, various countries has their own laws regarding how their people should quarantine prior and following travel.

Should this not happen, the world No.2 has openly voiced his opposition to holding tournaments. A potential thorn in the side of the ATP, who rely heavily on the support of the record-breaking Big Three contingent. Furthermore, he is also a key member of the influential Player Council, which is headed by world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

“If we are not able to organise a tournament that is not safe enough or fair enough where every player from every part of the world needs to have the chance to play the tournament we can’t play, that’s my feeling.” Nadal states.
“My feeling is that we need to wait a little bit more. We are in a worldwide sport. For me it is not the same as football or a tournament that can be played in one country. When you mix people from all over the world the complications are completely different. I am a little bit worried about that.”
“But I am positive. I hope to keep receiving positive news, but I don’t know when we will be playing again. Today is not worrying me much, what worries me is returning to normal life.”

However, should push come to shove and the king of clay was given the ultimatum that he can play whilst players from other countries were restricted to, he would do so. Although he would be far from happy if that scenario does happen.

“We need to be clear. We need to be responsible, we need to be sending strong messages and a positive example for society,” Nadal argues. “We are suffering from an unprecedented situation and my feeling is that we need to come back (to the Tour) when all players are able to travel and are safe to do so.”
“If not, I probably will still play, but my feeling would be that we (the ATP) are not being 100 percent correct. I want to see my sport being 100 percent fair and correct. Especially under the circumstances.”

When he does eventually return to competitive tennis, Nadal has played down any concerns over his current match fitness. His last match took place in February when he defeated Taylor Fritz to win his 85th ATP title in Mexico. Overall, he has won 13 out of 16 matches played so far in 2020.

“I think the last couple of years I have learned to play good tennis without the need to play a lot of matches. I think I can find a way to compete at the very highest level without being able to play a lot of matches before,” He commented on his future return.
“I have played a small amount of tournaments in the last couple of years. I think it is all about making the right preparations.’
“I’m confident that I have enough time to prepare myself and organize my calendar. I hope that I will be competitive again.”

Nadal has been spending his time away from the tour in Mallorca.

Grand Slam

Australian Open Chief Confident Event Will Take Place In January Amid COVID-19 Jump In Region

Craig Tiley has addressed concerns about the Grand Slam following a new outbreak in Victoria.

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The tournament director of the Australian Open has insisted that plans for next year’s tournament are on track despite a spike in COVID-19 cases around Melbourne.

 

Craig Tiley has stated that the Grand Slam will only take place in the city and there are no backup plans to potentially relocate the event in a worst case scenario. The Australian Open is held annually at Melbourne Park and this year attracted a record attendance of 812,174 people. Although there are concerns about the threat posed by COVID-19 with the Victoria State Government reporting another 66 cases of the virus on Friday. Making it the 17th day the daily infection rate has been in double digits. It is possible that the number could be higher with health minister Jenny Mikakos confirming around 10,000 people have refused to be tested with some claiming the virus to be a ‘conspiracy theory.’

According to ABC News Tiley and his team are planning for six scenarios concerning the Australian Open taking place, including the possibility of holding it behind closed doors. Although he is optimistic that the event and others also set to take place next January will go ahead as planned.

“Nothing has changed for us in terms of our planning,” Tiley told AAP.
“The environment around us has changed, and will continue to change, as we’ve seen with the current spike in Victoria.
“We’re optimistic the additional measures currently in place will be successful — and restrictions will continue to be eased over the coming months.”

The Tournament director has also confirmed that there will be little flexibility concerning the staging of next year’s event. Saying it will only take place in Melbourne and during January if it goes ahead. Although he is keeping a close eye on the two Grand Slams that are set to take place later this season.

“The US Open and the French Open are exploring mandatory testing, varying levels of quarantine and limiting entourages,” he said.
“Of course we are looking at all these options, and more, as part of our scenario planning.
“It’s difficult to predict exactly what will need to be in place as guidelines and protocols are changing week by week, and sometimes even day by day.”

This year’s US Open is set to get underway on August 31st, but will be held behind closed doors for the first time. Meanwhile the French Open, which starts only weeks after the New York major, plans to allow up to 20,000 fans to attend daily. Working out to be roughly 60% of its maximum capacity.

The last time the Australian Open didn’t take place was in 1986 due to a change in its hosting date from December to January. Founded in 1905, it is the youngest out of the four grand slam tournaments.

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Grand Slam

Patrick Mouratoglou Cast Doubt On US Open Taking Place As Covid-19 Cases Soar

One top health expert has warned American lawmakers that the country could reach 100,000 cases of the virus per day.

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The coach of Serena Williams has said he is unsure ‘if it is a good move’ for the US Open to go ahead amid the ongoing COVID-19 crises.

 

Patrick Mouratoglou told Sky Sports that he believes it is ‘a bit crazy’ for the event to be going ahead as planned. This year’s Grand Slam in New York is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and will be implementing strict measures to deal with the threat of COVID-19. Including regular testing and temperature checks. Players will also be kept essentially in a ‘bubble’ throughout and limited to where they can go. All tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the Pandemic but the Tour is set to resume in August.

”With what’s happening at the moment in the US, with the number of cases of COVID-19 going higher and higher every day, I don’t think how that can happen,” Mouratoglou told Sky Sports.
“From outside, it looks a bit crazy to try to make it happen. So, I don’t know if it’s a good move.
“I wouldn’t say that if the situation was more stable like it is in Europe, then it’s a different story. But in the US and especially in New York and around New York is… I mean, the number of cases is increasing incredibly. So, I don’t know how reasonable that is to try to make it happen. And I don’t know if last minute the governor of New York will decide to cancel it because of course health first.”

Recently Dr Anthony Fauci, who is a top disease expert, told the United States Senate that he would not be surprised if the country soars to 100,000 cases of the Coronavirus each day. His warning comes as Reuters News Agency reports that there was a rise of more than 47,000 cases on Tuesday. The biggest jump in daily cases since the pandemic started.

As a result of the rise, New York has said that people travelling from 16 different states in America are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the city. According to USA Today this ruling applies to roughly 48% of the entire American population. Due to the uncertain situation, Mouratoglou believes it is still possible the US Open could get cancelled nearer the time.

“I think it’s completely possible that two weeks before he [Andrew Cuomo] decides I mean, considering the situation, this is not reasonable to bring people from all over the world there, mix them together and potentially put them in touch with one of the countries that has the most cases at the moment.” He said.

Some players are yet to clarify their plans for the Grand Slam and if they will be playing. Rafael Nadal, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep are some of those who have previously expressed their concerns. However, former champion and world No.1 Andy Murray says is it a ‘positive’ move for the event to be going ahead as well as the French Open which will follow shortly after.

“Getting the US Open and the French Open played this year is a good thing, I think. It’s positive, I just don’t like the way the French Open went about scheduling their event,” Murray told the BBC. “But we’re going to have to go back to playing at some stage. The most important thing is that the events are safe.”

The US Open is set to get underway on August 31st.

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Novak Djokovic Hails Return Of Grand Slam Tennis Amid Speculation Over US Open Attendance

The Serbian tennis star is yet to confirm his calendar for the 2020 season.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic says he is ‘happy and excited’ that professional tennis will be resuming in the coming weeks without confirming if he would play in both grand slam tournaments later this year.

 

On Wednesday it was announced that the ATP Tour will be restarted in August ahead of the US Open later that month. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all tennis tournaments have either been suspended or cancelled since March. However, certain restrictions will be in place for the upcoming events with the US Open set to be played behind closed doors for the first time in its history.

“I’m extremely happy and excited to see that all the tournaments; especially Grand Slams, are organising their events,” Djokovic told Eurosport’s Tennis Legends podcast.
“I think that a lot of people were sceptical, especially for the US events considering what the US went through as a country during this pandemic. So a lot of people, including myself; were quite sceptical on whether it would happen or not.”

Djokovic, who started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row on the ATP Tour, had previously voiced concerns over playing in New York. Labelling the rules as ‘extreme’ with the idea that players can only bring one member of their team to the site. However, the USTA confirmed on Wednesday that these plans have now been eased in order to accommodate bigger entourages. Players can now take three members each with them to the event, which has scrapped draws in a bid to limit the number of people. Something that has caused outcry among wheelchair tennis players.

“Obviously the regulations and measures as of today are quite strict, I must say. With quarantine and with some players; especially those from South America, not being able to travel out of their countries to come to the States. Hopefully that will change: the ATP and the USTA, everyone is working on it. The worst case scenario is that it remains like this, but there is time.” He said.
“Hopefully every single player who is participating, chosen by ranking and who deserves their place at the US Open; will have an equal opportunity to travel there and compete as everybody else. This is very, very important because this is the foundation of the ATP and the foundation of international tennis.
“We will all collectively try to make sure that this is the priority. Let’s hope that in the next two months some of those restrictions will loosen up a bit and that we will have a great, great tournament.”

Whilst remaining coy about his plans for North America, the 33-year-old has stated his intention to play at the French Open. Which is set to get underway two after the conclusion of the US Open. Djokovic last won the tournament back in 2016 and reached the semi-finals last year.

Tournament director Guy Forget has said he was confident that fans will be able to attend Roland Garros in some capacity. Although the final decision will be made by the French government. Qualifying rounds will also be played.

“It is great that we have a roof, obviously, on Philippe Chatrier this year, so those are the positive things and I look forward to it. I mean it’s one of the most important and one of the nicest tournaments in the world. I always enjoy playing there and I can’t wait to go back.” Djokovic commented.

More clarity about Djokovic’s calendar could emerge this week. He is currently in Croatia for the second leg of the Adria Tour and will be undertaking various media commitments.

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