Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 November 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic expect to wait 'many months' before tennis returns

The global nature of tennis means there is little chance tournaments will go ahead any time soon due to the coronavirus pandemic

Spain's Rafael Nadal congratulates Serbia's Novak Djokovic (R) during the presentation ceremony after the men's singles final on day 14 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 27, 2019. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --
Spain's Rafael Nadal congratulates Serbia's Novak Djokovic (R) during the presentation ceremony after the men's singles final on day 14 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 27, 2019. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --

Rafael Nadal seems resigned to the fact it will be some time before tennis returns to anything resembling a normal schedule owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

The global nature of tennis means there is little chance tournaments will go ahead any time soon, as countries close their borders and order its citizens to abide by strict social-distancing measures.

World No 1 Novak Djokovic also anticipates a lengthy delay before tennis can be played, even behind closed doors.

The French Open, which Nadal has won a record 12 times, has been postponed until September, shortly after the US Open, while Wimbledon was cancelled earlier this month for the first time since the Second World War.

But the prospect of either Grand Slams at Roland Garros or Flushing Meadows being played with fans in attendance appears increasingly remote.

"Tennis is a global sport," Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero on Wednesday. "We go from country to country and a lot of people have to move around.

"It seems difficult to me for any big tournament to be played in the short or medium term."

While some sports, such as football, begin to take their first tentative steps out from self-imposed isolation in the hope of playing games behind closed doors to avoid losing out on broadcasting contracts, tennis faces a different problem.

Tennis tournaments are more reliant on fans for their income, making it more complicated to stage competitions in empty stadiums.

"It is not an easy decision," Djokovic told the same programme. "I am ready but I think we have to wait a few months."

"If you could play behind closed doors, I would be delighted but I think it's very difficult," Nadal said.

Updated: April 16, 2020 04:56 PM

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