Nadal Hopes To Play At French Open Next Year

Austin Okon-Akpan  
Updated August 5, 2020
Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during their men’s singles match in the final of the ATP Cup tennis tournament in Sydney on January 12, 2020.
William WEST / AFP


Rafael Nadal has restated his intention to play at the French Open next year and remains hopeful it will go ahead, despite withdrawing from the U.S Open due to Covid-19 concerns.

Nadal’s withdrawal from Flushing Meadows was confirmed shortly after the Madrid Open was cancelled due to a rise in Covid-19 cases in Europe, raising doubts around other events, including the French Open which is scheduled to start on September 27th in Paris.

Last year, the Spaniard played some mind-blowing tennis, dropping only one set along the way, to set up his twelfth French Open final.

In a rematch of the previous year’s final against Thiem, Nadal prevailed in four sets to claim his record-extending twelfth French Open title. He also broke Margaret Court’s all-time record of eleven singles titles won at a single Grand Slam event.

The 34-year old is hoping the Coronavirus situation gets better so he can take a chance to defend his title.

“I will be ready for it. I will be preparing myself for the tournament (Roland Garros), for the clay in Europe, then when the moment arrives I want to take my personal decisions depending on how the situation is, or how not, you know. Then when the moment arrives let’s take a look at how the situation is around Europe, if everything is under control or not and then I’m going to make my personal decision.”

Nadal, defending champion of the U.S Open, would have attempted to tie Roger Federer for most men’s Grand Slam titles — 20. Nadal is the second player to pull out of the tournament in recent days. Ashleigh Barty, the world’s No. 1 women’s singles player, announced last week that won’t compete because of the pandemic.

“The tournament is still big, you know, it’s a grand slam. I am not the kind of person that’s saying, I ‘m not arrogant enough to say the tournament is not big enough because I am not playing. I think there will be important players there, will be another important player without travelling there, so, of course, will be a tournament under special circumstances. But it’s still a grand slam and the winner will feel it like a winner of a grand slam,” he stated.

The hardcourt Grand Slam event starts on Aug. 31, but the 19-times major winner said his heart felt like it was not the right time to travel to New York and feels there could be more withdrawals in the coming weeks but hoped the situation will evolve favourably for the tournament to be held.

The United States has more than 4.79 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 157,000 have died. The U.S. Open organisers (USTA) are creating a bio-secure ‘bubble’ in New York to hold the tournament without spectators.

The Spaniard said he was not the one to judge if the decision to hold the Grand Slam amid COVID-19 was correct.

“No, I just believe that we need to be responsible because at the end of the day we are an example in some way for a lot of people, so, we need to be the right examples. Especially under these circumstances.”

With the professional circuit halted since early March, Novak Djokovic organised the Adria Tour exhibition event in the Balkans but it was abandoned after several players, including the top-ranked Serb tested positive for COVID-19.

Nadal hoped lessons have been learnt from the event, which was played in front of packed stands and lacked social distancing norms.

Following the U.S. Open, the Rome Masters is the only event currently listed on the ATP calendar before the French Open in Paris, where Nadal is also the defending champion.

The professional tennis tours have been on hiatus since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak, with play resuming for women on Monday in Palermo, Italy. The first men’s event on the main tour will take place later this month.