ATP

Coronavirus: Nadal 'very pessimistic' about tennis returning

By Sports Desk April 26, 2020

World number two Rafael Nadal said he is "very pessimistic" about tennis returning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ATP Tour has been suspended until at least July 13 due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has killed more than 206,990 people globally.

Nadal – who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals this year – last took to the court when he won the Mexican Open in February and the 19-time grand slam champion is not optimistic about playing again soon.

"From my point of view, I'm very pessimistic that the circuit can resume a normal activity," Nadal said in a virtual chat via the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET).

"In tennis, you need to travel every week, stay in hotels, go to different countries. Even if we play without an audience, to organise any event you need a lot of people involved, which cannot be ignored. At an international level I see a serious problem."

Nadal, 33, added: "We have had a very tough month and a half, with many irreparable losses as well as others that are less important that will still bring great suffering to society, I hope only for a few months, at the economic level.

"Many people are going to lose their jobs. These are sad moments when you see so many people dying."

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    A furious Sara Errani aimed verbal volleys at Kiki Bertens at the French Open on Wednesday, accusing the fifth seed of exaggerating an injury in their mammoth second-round clash.

    A visibly upset Bertens left the court in a wheelchair after suffering with cramps in a three-hour, 11-minute tussle with Errani that the Dutchwoman won 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 9-7.

    However, Errani, who failed to serve out the match on three different occasions, claimed her opponent was merely putting on an act.

    "I don't like when somebody is joking on you," Errani told reporters.

    "She played an amazing match, but I don't like the situation.

    "One hour she has an injury, then she runs. I don't like that. She goes out of the court on the chair, and now she's in the locker perfect, in the restaurant. I don't like these things."

    World number eight Bertens, who faces Katerina Siniakova next, shrugged off the criticism, though.

    "She can say whatever she feels like. Maybe I should take some more acting classes or should pursue a career in that," Bertens said.

    "I'm not sure what she's thinking, but, no, I didn't feel really good on court, to be honest."

    AZARENKA EXITS

    On the same day that Serena Williams pulled out of the tournament due to an Achilles injury, Victoria Azarenka – who beat the American in the US Open semi-finals – also bowed out with a 6-2 6-2 loss to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

    None of the four women who made the final four in New York are still in the tournament in France, with champion Naomi Osaka having withdrawn before it started and Jennifer Brady eliminated in the first round.

    However, Azarenka did not blame the quick turnaround and change of surface for her loss.

    "Today was not the case of a turnaround, was not the case of the court, was not the case of anything else," she said.

    "This is a lesson for me to learn. I don't think about what happened in New York."

    HALEP OVERCOMES COMPATRIOT

    Top seed Simona Halep beat fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3 6-4 to seal her passage to the third round.

    "It's never easy to play against a Romanian and against Irina, we played so many times; it's never easy," Halep admitted.

    "I managed well in the end and I think I played the right game when I needed to."

    GAUFF'S RACE IS RUN

    Despite beating ninth seed Johanna Konta in the first round, 16-year-old Coco Gauff fell at the next hurdle.

    The American went a set up against Italian Martina Trevisan only to lose 4-6 6-2 7-5.

    Meanwhile, seeds Elina Svitolina, Elise Mertens and Amanda Anisimova all progressed.

  • French Open 2020: Nadal dazzles but says Roland Garros perfection is out of reach French Open 2020: Nadal dazzles but says Roland Garros perfection is out of reach

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    NADAL CONCEDES DEFEAT... TO HOPES OF TENNIS PERFECTION

    The greatest of all French Open champions knows there will always be room for improvement in his game, even when he is playing with the sort of gusto that swept away McDonald in 100 minutes of wizardry on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

    Nadal was asked afterwards whether he has ever played a perfect match, and what such a performance would look like.

    "Perfection is difficult. I really believe that word in sport, especially in tennis, doesn't exist," Nadal said.

    "You're always going to have mistakes. At the end of the day, the perfect match or the closest-to-perfect match is when you win. When you win, you're going to have the chance to play again the next day. That's the goal in this sport.

    "It's not a sport where you have to look for perfection. Perfection is not going to happen. But close to be playing very, very well, yeah, it's happening.

    "Close to perfection can happen a couple of times in your life. Then when this happens, when the best players are playing at that level, then the normal thing is that these guys wins the tournaments."

    'STANIMAL' WAWRINKA IS PROWLING WITH INTENT

    After sweeping aside Andy Murray in round one, Wawrinka, who won the first of his three slam titles at the French Open six years ago, is fancying his chances of a long run.

    He saw off Germany's Dominik Koepfer 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-1 on Wednesday, a decent outcome against a player who took a set off Djokovic in the Rome quarter-finals earlier in September.

    "I've been practising right. I'm feeling good. I like the conditions here. I enjoy being back playing grand slams," Wawrinka, who enjoys his 'Stanimal' nickname, explained.

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    "We are lucky to be able to play here. I'm ready for it. I'm ready for the next round. Let's see what will happen in the next two weeks."

    His match against Koepfer was interrupted by what sounded like a huge explosion, which was heard across Paris and was later confirmed as a sonic boom caused by a military aircraft.

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    "Generally I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "I'm still a little bit on the happy wave of New York, I would say.

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    Wawrinka and Thiem are on a fourth-round collision course.

    Zverev, beaten by Thiem in the US Open final, was some way short of his best as he scrambled for a 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 win against Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

    John Isner, Benoit Paire and Kei Nishikori were among the notable casualties on day four of the tournament, but the title favourites remain firmly on course for the second week.

  • Very sad news for tennis – Nadal supports Serena after French Open withdrawal Very sad news for tennis – Nadal supports Serena after French Open withdrawal

    Rafael Nadal feels Serena Williams' withdrawal from the French Open is "very sad news for tennis" and has backed her to make a strong recovery.

    Williams, 39, has been struggling with an Achilles injury since reaching the semi-finals at the US Open.

    Despite gutting out a first-round win over Kristie Ahn on Monday, the 23-time grand slam champion could not take to the court against Tsvetana Pironkova on Wednesday after acknowledging she was struggling to walk.

    Williams told reporters her 2020 season is most likely over and while Nadal knows injury comebacks are harder in the latter stages of a player's career, he is hopeful the American will be back at her best before too long.

    "I don't want to speculate how bad is the injury or not when I don't know," he told reporters after thrashing Williams' compatriot Mackenzie McDonald in his second-round match.

    "Of course, it is very sad news for tennis, for Roland Garros, and especially for her. Sorry for her. 

    "I can just wish her a fast and good recovery. It is true that all the comebacks are tough, especially when you get a little bit older - every time is more difficult.

    "She showed amazing passion for this sport. I really believe that she will be good in the next couple of months."

    Williams had tried to hide the extent of her injury during her first match in Paris this week and Nadal was asked whether he had ever been in the same situation.

    "Well, you don't want to show that [you have an injury] if you really believe that you can keep going," added Nadal. "You don't have to give advantages to the others, no?

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