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Rafael Nadal 'doesn't give a damn about tennis right now', says coach Toni

By Joe Wright
Rafael Nadal doesnt give a damn about tennis right now, according to Toni Nadal, his coach and uncle.

Madrid, April 10: Rafael Nadal "doesn't give a damn about tennis right now", according to Toni Nadal, his coach and uncle.

The ATP and WTA Tours have been suspended until June due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the clay season effectively wiped off the calendar, with the French Open having been pushed back to September.

Wimbledon has also been cancelled, making 2020 the first time since the Second World War that the famous grass-court grand slam will not be held.

With the season on hold, the battle for the outright lead in major singles titles in the men's game has also been paused. Roger Federer has 20, with Nadal on 19 and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic on 17.

Given Federer's best chance of a major this year has arguably gone due to Wimbledon's cancellation, and with the French Open still due to go ahead, it has been suggested 2020 could finally be the year that the Swiss great is caught at the top of the standings by long-time rival Nadal.

However, Toni Nadal insists such things are far from his nephew's mind while the world battles against COVID-19.

Spain has been particularly badly affected, with more than 153,000 confirmed cases and over 15,000 fatalities.

"With the huge problem we have, all this has been forgotten," Toni Nadal told Mundo Deportivo. "It's secondary. Coronavirus is what counts, not tennis.

"We [Rafa and I] were talking and he told me he doesn't give a damn about tennis right now. That's logical if you have a little sensitivity."

Rafa, it seems, was given an indication of what the pandemic could bring when speaking to Bill Gates at a charity event in South Africa in February.

However, Toni has dispelled fears it could take some of the top players a long time to recapture their rhythm when tennis finally returns.

"I understand Bill Gates spoke to Rafa, who was with him and Roger Federer at the exhibition match in Cape Town," said Toni.

"They were chatting and at one point in the conversation, Bill Gates told my nephew that in two months, you wouldn't be able to travel. And so it is.

"When he was a kid, Rafael was away from playing for a week and then he had a hard time hitting the ball again. But from a certain age, with more experience, that's no longer the case.

"Because of injury, he could go up to three months without touching the racquet, but when he returned, he was fine in a week, or at most 10 or 15 days. This will be a similar situation."

The decision to move the French Open to a slot a week after the scheduled end of the US Open has caused some consternation but, again, Toni Nadal was keen to point to the bigger picture.

He added: "There are people who complained about not being consulted, but I'm not Roland Garros and I don't consult about it.

"I said a few weeks ago that things were going to be totally stopped for a while. How do you want us to play tennis? It's unthinkable. It won't be played until there is a very clear security measure.

"If not, how do I go to an event? What if another wave [of infections] comes back in October? How many countries won't make restrictions on movement? How long will lockdown last? I don't know.

"Tennis is a sport that moves many people from one country to another."

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Story first published: Friday, April 10, 2020, 14:00 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 10, 2020
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