Novak Djokovic recently claimed that quarantine is tough on the players, and that many were unsure about continuing with the season unless the rules were relaxed. But Rafael Nadal has a slightly different take on the issue.
Following his shock defeat at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarterfinals, the Spaniard was asked what he thought about Djokovic's concerns. Nadal responded that although he understands the Serb's point, he believes a lot of different factors are at play and so nothing can be decided at the moment.
"The situation we're facing is tough and the world is facing a very tough situation," Rafael Nadal said. "That's very clear. And he's completely right that for our sport, things are difficult because governments are changing rules constantly. So it's difficult to make predictions about how things gonna happen."
Novak Djokovic has suffered an injury setback during his defence of the Australian Open this year, but he has ground his way through to the semifinal. After his quarterfinal win over Alexander Zverev, the World No. 1 pointed out that many players are suffering from fitness concerns in Melbourne because of the 14-day quarantine that was imposed on them upon arrival in the city.
Rafael Nadal, however, claimed that the alternative to quarantine is for tournaments to get canceled, which would be infeasible for the people they employ.
"There are two options - stop the tour or keep going," Nadal said. "It's tough for the players of course (to) have to do bubbles in every event. On the other hand if we stop the tour, why and how and when we will be able to come back? A lot of jobs (are) gonna suffer, not only (of the) players."
Protect the rankings so that players are not forced to play: Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal also opined that one way to keep players healthy is to freeze the ranking system. That, the 34-year-old believes, will stop players from being forced to play too many events just for the sake of ranking points.
"So we need to think a little bit bigger, no," Nadal said. "And of course we need to protect players. Probably we need to find a way to protect the players with the ranking, to not force them to keep playing because the situation is very tough for a lot of players depending on the countries."
The ranking system had been frozen last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, even before the US Open. That allowed many players - Nadal included - to skip the American hardcourt season and avoid the stress of traveling to a country overflowing with coronavirus cases.
As things stand, the rankings continue will remain frozen until the latter half of March. However, Rafael Nadal will slip from the 2nd to the 3rd spot if Daniil Medvedev picks up the title in Melbourne on Sunday.