Rafa Roundup: Speak up or stay silent on Australian Open Covid crisis?

Photo by Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia


While the Grand Slam race between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal—and potentially even Novak Djokovic—will be a hot topic at the Slams throughout the year, it’s going to heat up right away in Melbourne next month, because if Nadal wins the title, he’ll set the new all-time men’s record.

The two are currently tied for the record with 20 Grand Slam titles apiece—Nadal actually tied Federer’s record at the last major, Roland Garros, after which the Swiss only had kind words for him.

Second seed Spain, which finished runner-up in 2020, will aim to move through Group B, which includes Greece and Australia. World No. 2 Rafael Nadal leads the way for his country for the second consecutive year.

“The Foundation is a part of Rafa, so whenever an opportunity to collaborate falls into his hands he doesn’t hesitate to get involved,” she says. “He’s always happy to participate in events and that helps to draw more interest to the Foundation which is private and we receive funds from various sources, including collaborators, sponsors, anonymous donors and charitable events.”

While World No.1 Novak Djokovic (also in Adelaide) has called on Tennis Australia to help players struggling in quarantine in Melbourne, Nadal has remained silent. And that fact has angered Pella.

“Djokovic’s balcony is bigger than my room. But at least he said something,” Pella told a tennis podcast from his hotel room.

“I’m surprised with Nadal and (Dominic) Thiem’s silence”.


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  1. ATP Cup daily schedule – Day 1, Tuesday, February 2nd
    Rafa vs Alex De Minaur, not before 7pm local time, not before 12am pacific time

    Vamos Rafa 💪❤️

    • Day 3, Thursday, February 4th
      Rafa vs Stefanos Tsitsipas, not before 7pm local time, not before 12am pacific time

      Good luck to Rafa 🍀❤️

  2. Hi rafa so proud of you just getting on with your quarantine will out fuss it’s very warm l now your ideal temperature is 25 degrees hope you do well your my favourite tennis player vamos rafa xxx

  3. Many players are complaining because they won’t be able to practice before the Open and being quarantined even if they tested negative. Having said this, Rafa is not about to jump into a controversy regarding protocols about which he unambiguously stated we cannot say what is best for another country. Anyone who expected Rafa to get involved is ignoring his stance on the matter.

    What I do find interesting is that the Royal Tennis Association of Spain [RFET] has voiced support for two Spanish players who tested positive, Mario Vilella and Carlos Alcaraz.

    RFET has stated that players were not notified that anyone on a plane where a person tested positive would mean that all passengers on that plane would have to quarantine. This falls in line with what some players have said.

    Could Tiley have been clearer? I think so only because too many players didn’t understand the ramifications of one positive test on a flight. Had he been clearer, there’s the possibility that a lot of players would have skipped the AO.

    As for Djokovic, I do believe that he is earnest in his support of lower ranked players but unfortunately for him he is not a poster boy for scientific facts. His pronouncement on how to purify water and other dubious comments only add to his image as a divisive figure.

    • Margo, I did see somewhere recently that the RFET back tracked on its comments. Said their comments were misinterpreted or some such.

      I agree that Rafa is wise not to join the debate. It is clear that the rules will not be relaxed. Australia endured 111 eleven days of isolation 23 hours a day. They are taking no chances of another lockdown.

      Nole can’t help but being full of himself. I think people understand that finally.

      • David, while the RFET did “apologize” for its “misinterpreted” statement, and went on to compliment Australia for its protocols, saying Australia should be an example for the world, it did not retract the third paragraph which was a major theme in my comment.

        About RFET’s “apology”, which I find debatable, after complimenting Australia and saying how much they respect what Australia is doing to fight against infection of the virus, RFET goes on to explain what they meant:

        ‘On Saturday RFET said its intention had been “to request the Australian Open, with utmost respect for their skills, the possibility of exploring safe training options for Spanish players affected by isolation for 14 days.”’

        So, as I see it, apologize, say how much we respect your handling of the situation, and compliment you BUT please make an exception and give special treatment to players who have to quarantine.

        I fail to see an apology after having perused RFET’s initial statement and its “apology.” From what I understand, it was the Australian government that had to agree to protocols before the AO could go forward. I don’t recall if the RFET made its appeal to the AO or the government.

    • In an attempt to diffuse the situation on their part, RFET has since aplogised to Tennis Australia after complaining about the treatment of two of their players in quarantine. In a statement they said “We apologise to TA if our statement has at any time been interpreted as a criticism of their working methods, nothing is further from our intentions.”

      As far as Rafa is concerned, I agree with what everyone here has already said. Understandably, the players in Melbourne feel upset, but they shouldn’t turn on Rafa, a fellow player. The TA and the authorities are not going to change anything, as is clear from their unequivocal rejection of most of Novak’s demands.

      Craig Tiley has said that those players under strict quarantine conditions will get priority in terms of the scheduling and practice times, so I don’t expect any other concessions. Now I’m just counting down the days to some action.

  4. Better to keep quiet I think. There’s little to be achieved by saying anything in public, the rules are the rules in this case and quite rightly so. It’s unfortunate for the players who have had to endure the hard lockdown, and I’m sure all of the others sympathise even though they’ve said nothing. Djokovic may have spoken out in support, but maybe he shouldn’t have flaunted his privilege by prancing about on his balcony every day.

    In related news, an additional WTA tournament has been arranged for the women who have been unable to practice before AO and all three ATP events (ATP Cup and the two Melbourne 250s) will now start 24 hours later in order to give players a bit more time. A day isn’t much though.

  5. This is an extremely difficult situation for everyone. I would crack up if I were stuck in a hotel room on my own, 24 hours a day, for 2 weeks – especially if I had to cope with mice running around. And I don’t need to be at peak fitness for a major tennis tournament: the players do.

    However, the authorities are not going to change their minds about the protocols which have been put in place, and criticising them is creating bad feeling. A lot of Australians are, understandably, upset that tennis players have been allowed into the country whilst Australian citizens living abroad and wanting to go home have not. It doesn’t look good when players complain.

  6. I agree that Rafa should stay silent publicly. Frankly, what could he even say? The players in Adelaide do seem to have better conditions than those in Melbourne. Rafa has four team members with him plus his father. I think Novak made a mess with his public comments.

  7. Australian sports media is very harsh and has no problem concocting dories. I’m pretty sure that Rafa has advocated quietly for bettor conditions for the players but cannot get involved in the quarantine protocols. They are not within the remit of anyone. Rafa is wise and smart and would not go public unlike Novak who got into the discussion much too late. He loves to be seen as the ” saviour”. He is so needy. Only a few players have gone public do let’s not put all in the Sam category. The wingers will always get the publicity.
    Kevin Anderson, a member of the ATP Players Council, came out strongly that most are satisfied with conditions and accept the protocols.

  8. Stay silent.Having said that we don’t know what has been said behind the scenes. Rafa is not one to go public, whereas others crave publicity. There is really nothing to be said. The Australian government in collaberation with Tennis Australia have set the rules and you either abide by them or you stay at home.

    I have to say and of course it is just my opinion, but whining, grumbling tennis players have not covered themselves with glory nor have they enhanced the image of tennis or tennis players.

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