Rafael Nadal, who returns to the tour for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown at the Italian Open this week, recently spoke about Novak Djokovic's disqualification from the US Open.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was the favorite to win at Flushing Meadows this year, particularly with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer opting out of the tournament. However, the Serb accidentally hit a line judge in the fourth round of the tournament, and was thus handed a default.
Speaking about the incident, Rafael Nadal said that while it was unfortunate, it showed why it's important to exercise self-control on the court.
"It was unfortunate, but the rules speak for themselves, in the field it is very important to have self-control," the Spaniard said, as reported by the Gazzetta dello Sport.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds respectively at this week's Rome Masters. They had also faced off in the final of the tournament last year, which the Spaniard won 6–0, 4–6, 6–1.
Rafael Nadal is ready to play without crowds
Given this is his first tournament post the lockdown, Rafael Nadal has not played in a stadium without fans so far. He said that while the experience will be different this time, he is excited to be in Rome again and return to competition.
"I'm really happy to be here," said Rafael Nadal. "The circumstances have been heavy for everyone. But we are here. Rome always excites me, it is undoubtedly one of the most important events in the world. Obviously it will not be the same without the audience and without being able to have some fun exploring the city. We are in a bubble, but in the end the important thing is to be here, right?"
The World No. 2 added that the extended lockdown might have made him slightly rusty, but had given him the time to prepare himself better. He awaits a tough test in the form of US Open semifinalist Pablo Careno Busta in his first game back.
“I'm as usual, maybe a little worse because I haven't played tournaments for six months: I need to play," said the Spaniard. "But here I am, I arrived with a lot of time to prepare myself better. I know I have to face Pablo Carreno Busta right away, he's playing great. It will be a good test. My first goal now is to take the field and feel competitive, then we'll see."Published 14 Sep 2020, 23:13 IST