MADRID (AP) — Rafael Nadal says it will be “very difficult” for tennis to return to action any time soon and is concerned about the risk of injuries when the sport resumes.
Nadal spoke in a joint interview with NBA player Pau Gasol that was published by Spanish newspapers on Monday.
“I don’t think training would be a problem, but competing… I see it very difficult,” Nadal said. “It’s a moment to be responsible and coherent, so I don’t see how we can travel every week to a different country.
“I would be OK playing without fans, even though that’s not what we want, but unfortunately, from what I’m seeing, even though things are improving, for our sport I don’t see it prudent to be competing again any time soon.”
Nadal pointed out that even though there is a smaller risk of contagion in tennis compared to team sports, there are many people involved in the organization of tennis tournaments, from hotels to other sectors of society.
“As far as competing, maybe our sport is the most complicated one, having to move a lot of people week after week,” he said.
Nadal, who has had to deal with a series of injuries throughout his career, is also worried that the risk of new injuries will increase when players return to action.
“When I hit a ball again, my arm is going to hurt in several places … my wrist, my elbow,” the 19-time Grand Slam champion said. “When you are out of action, the risk of an injury is a lot greater than when you are exercising, even if just a bit.
“If I could have a tennis-related training for half an hour every day, If I could at least exercise the specific muscles that are needed in tennis, I think that would help get the rust off my body when we get back to action.”
Gasol also spoke about his concerns in the interview with newspapers that was conducted through a Zoom session and also included other Spanish athletes such as golfer Sergio Garcia, motorcycle rider Marc Márquez, F1 driver Carlos Sainz, cyclist Alejandro Valverde and soccer coach Julen Lopetegui.
The interview was promoted to help Nadal’s and Gasol’s campaign to encourage donations to the Red Cross and help during the health crisis prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The interview was published by the Spanish sports newspapers Marca, As, Mundo Deportivo and Sport.
Gasol, who has been out of action for more than a year because of a foot injury, also expects a tough time on his body when the NBA returns to action.
“The idea was for me to prepare myself for the Tokyo Games, but that has changed and there is a lot of uncertainty now,” he said. “When I get back to a basketball court, it’s not only my foot that is going to hurt, it’s also my hip, back, shoulder, knee … everything.”
Gasol said the NBA wants a training period of at least three to four weeks for players before the league can restart.
Nadal also spoke about how he has been paying special attention to his tennis academy in Mallorca, where there are about 150 people confined, including 85 kids.
Spain has been in a lockdown since March 14 and the confinement is expected to continue at least until May 9.