(Reuters) – Rafael Nadal is very pessimistic about the possibility of tennis returning to normal anytime soon because of the coronavirus pandemic that shut down the sport last month.
Professional tennis has been suspended until the end of July, at the earliest, and Rafa said Sunday that serious problems stand in the way of a resumption.
“From my point of view, I’m very pessimistic that the circuit can resume normal activity,” the No. 2-ranked player in the world said in an online chat organized by the Spanish Tennis Federation. “In tennis, you need to travel every week, stay in hotels, go to different countries.
“Even if we play without an audience, to organize any event, you need a lot of people involved, which cannot be ignored. At an international level, I see a serious problem.”
The coronavirus pandemic has decimated the world sports calendar, forcing the postponement of the Olympics, which includes tennis, and the cancellation of Wimbledon.
French Open organizers have rescheduled that event for the end of September, shortly after the US Open, although Rafa said public health should take priority over tennis tournaments.
“We have already said many times we are in a very difficult moment, for everyone,” he said. “Step by step, it looks like things are slightly less bad, but we’ve been through one and a half very tough months, lots of irreparable losses and other losses that are less important but without doubt will cause suffering in society in the following months.
“I hope it will be months not years, because it’s also an economic issue, as well. Lots of people are going to lose their jobs. These are sad moments when you see so many people dying.”
Rafa said that even when tennis does resume, the players will need to recover their fitness levels.
“It will be a very tough job to regain fitness, and you will need lots of discipline and lots of suffering,” he said. “The sooner we can resume activity, the better. From the point of view about going back to competitions, I’m pessimistic.
“But there are many other things more important than tennis.”
Spain has been especially badly hit by the virus, with 223,759 infections and 23,190 deaths.