In an interview with France TV Sport, 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal said that he would like to be at his most favourite stop on the tour were it to take place later this year. He also said that while physical interactions have been replaced by video calls, he has learned to adjust to the situation.
The 33-year-old Rafael Nadal opined in this respect that the COVID-19 outbreak has created an unprecedented situation where the health of everyone is of paramount importance:
"The reality is that I don't see the future from a professional point of view, but from a medical, health point of view. I project myself into a world where we can protect the health of all the people who work around tennis, in tournaments and the ATP circuit, the players, the staff… At the same time, it's a very complicated situation, where we don't know how things will develop."
However, Rafael Nadal sounded optimistic that if all goes well, he would be at the first Roland Garros tournament in the Open Era to be hosted in September.
"We all hope to find a quick solution to resume normal activity. So with regard to Roland-Garros in September, if we can play in optimal conditions and in complete safety for players who come from all over the world, everyone can participate, if all this is combined, then yes I will be there."
The 19-time Grand Slam champion also provided a sneak peek into his practice regimen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rafael Nadal said that he has resumed training, but not yet at full intensity as it is not yet clear when tournaments on the tour would resume again.
"Like everyone else, I couldn't leave my apartment for two months. Luckily, I received weight machines at home to train a little and keep myself in shape. Little by little, I resumed training a few days a week, but not seven days a week. It is a very gradual, very slow recovery, with great care and caution. The goal is to be ready for the day when we can play tennis again. We don't know that yet. "
There will be no birthday cake for Rafael Nadal on the Roland Garros terrace this year
During the interview, France TV Sport's interviewer Matthieu Lartot reminded Rafael Nadal that there wouldn't be any birthday celebration on the Roland Garros terrace for the Spaniard this year. But Rafael Nadal replied that just like countless ordinary people around the world, he has taken to the video calling app Zoom to stay in touch with his loved ones on special occasions.
"We replaced the terrace with Zoom, that's how it is! There is nothing 'else to do other than that right now. You have to do with what you have, and what you have today is meetings on Zoom and not on the Roland-Garros terrace."
Rafael Nadal doesn't favor the possibility of restarting tennis behind closed doors
One of the ideas being mooted around for the resumption of tennis post the COVID-19 lockdown is organizing tournaments behind closed doors without any spectators. However, Rafael Nadal does not sound too enthusiastic about this.
The 12-time Roland Garros champion said that the presence of spectators creates a unique atmosphere in sporting events that cannot be replicated.
"It is possible, football can be played behind closed doors! But if you ask me if I like it, the answer is no. There is nothing that replaces the presence of the public and the energy that it generates ."
Rafael Nadal concluded the interaction by posting a message for his fans in France:
"I would like to send strength and courage to the French public. I hope that they will be able to get out of this very difficult situation even stronger and well aware of the difficulty we have all gone through. I embrace the French people and I hope we can see each other very soon."