The adaptation of professional sports being played while in the midst of a pandemic has been marveling to witness. But it has been an adjustment, and some events worked, while others were called off.
Specifically, in tennis, the cancellation of Wimbledon in 2020 was paramount. But it had to happen.
Tennis is beginning this new year with hopes of having all four majors played with the top players in the world. The Australian Open was pushed back to February 8th, and players are already on-site in mandatory quarantine.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The world's best tennis players are arriving, ready to fight for the first Grand Slam title of 2021. Before the battle can begin they must quarantine for 14 days, take daily COVID-19 tests, physically distance, and practice & train under strictly controlled COVIDSafe conditions. <a href=”https://t.co/XrJDmc9vCi”>pic.twitter.com/XrJDmc9vCi</a></p>— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1349976641133449217?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 15, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
For Rafael Nadal, the chance to compete for another title is all he can ask for, given the state of the world.” At least we are here,” said Nadal in a CNN interview. “The world is suffering. We can’t complain; we can only say thanks to Tennis Australia and the Australian community to welcoming us.”
The players’ protocol is two weeks of self-isolation in their hotel room and passing multiple COVID-19 tests. This has some players in flurry, and others are sharing on social media their innovative ways to keep in tennis rhythm.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>When life gives you quarantine, make it work.??<br><br>Which player did hotel practice best?<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LockDownUnder?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LockDownUnder</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#AusOpen</a> <a href=”https://t.co/EA5YO5rvDO”>pic.twitter.com/EA5YO5rvDO</a></p>— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TennisChannel/status/1351333554907656194?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 19, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
“It’s normal to complain in some way,” said Nadal. “But on the other hand, you have to have a little bit wider perspective of what’s going on in the world.”
Nadal has always been cerebral with his actions, and his tennis talent rarely waivers, aside from injury. He tied Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slam titles after winning his 13th French Open back in October. This Australian Open allows him to eclipse Federer.
In less than two weeks, play will begin, and we will see how players’ on-court performance fairs after quarantine conditions. Multiple big-name players already opted-out of the tournament, such as Federer, Andy Murray, Kiki Bertens, and Madison Keys.
Nadal says he understands that the situation is less than ideal with limited practice time. Still, when the players agreed to come to Australia, they knew it would be strict.
“Try to stay positive,” said Nadal on what he is focusing on. “I feel we are very privileged to keep doing our jobs.”