Dubai: World No. 2 Rafael Nadal has called for an utterly “safe and secure” environment before tennis makes a decisive global comeback.
Speaking to media in a Zoom call organised by the French Tennis Federation late on Thursday, Nadal admitted that very few of the players are in a position to commence normal tennis activity.
“It’s not an ideal situation, honestly,” Nadal said. “We need to be responsible, we need to be sending strong messages and we need to be a positive example for society. We need to understand we are suffering an unprecedented situation and my feeling is that we need to come back when all the players from all the countries of the world are able to travel under safe circumstances. If not, in my opinion we will come back and I probably will play but my feeling will be that we are not being 100 per cent correct.”
The Spaniard, who turned 34 on Wednesday, has been spending time at his academy in Manacor, Majorca.
“If you asked me today if I want to travel to New York to play, I will say: ‘No, I will not.’ In a couple of months, I don’t know how the situation will improve,” Nadal said. “Every single player, from every part of the world, needs to have the chance to play. If not, in my opinion we can’t play tennis.”
Tennis’ top bodies, the ATP and WTA, are scheduled to decide on the fate of the US Open and the rest of the US hard court season during a meeting on June 15.
The French Open — where Nadal has won an incredible 12 times — was originally scheduled to run from May 24 to June 7, but now has been postponed for a late September start. The US Open is uncertain to be played, but still has been set for an August 31 to September 13 window in New York.
The Spaniard has 19 Grand Slam singles titles, just one short of all-time leader and good friend Roger Federer. In addition, Nadal has a record 35 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, 21 ATP Tour 500 titles along with the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He has held the world No. 1 ranking for a total of 209 weeks, including being the year-end No. 1 on five occasions. Besides his 12 titles at Roland Garros, Nadal has four US Open titles, two Wimbledon crowns and one Australian Open.
There’s uncertainly over the US Open as well following the killing of George Floyd that has sparked protests and violent clashes across the country during the week.
“There is nothing more important in this world than health and life. Today, we are not able to enjoy these two,” Nadal said.
“All people who want a good world and a safe sport are against racism and poverty and all the terrible stuff that is happening. When you see all these disasters on the streets, my feeling is it’s not the way to protest. I believe in people, where everybody is the same and there is equal rights and opportunities for all. We need to keep working to make this world a better place.”