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London | Rafa’s choices 

London | Rafa’s choices 

With little else to do, the debate over the French Open’s move into the late hard court season rumbles on, with speculation that some could opt to miss the US Open in order to make a good run on the clay at Roland Garros, due to be held a couple of weeks after Flushing Meadows in September.

I wanted to thank all the doctors, nurses and all the health personnel who are all protecting us, the police forces, civil and national guard, the army, and all those who make us feel a little safer, who are in the first line of fire. After all, they are those who are most at risk of catching the virus; they are our heroes. I want to express my admiration and thank you all. Rafa Nadal

One point in case could well be the king of clay, Rafael Nadal, who is looking to win Paris for a mind-boggling 13th time, but the Spaniard has other things on his mind right now, including the closure of his academy in Mallorca to the general public.

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the suspension of the ATP and WTA Tours until 7 June, effectively cancelling the clay court season, there are now big question marks over the remainder of the schedule.

Players such as Nadal and Roger Federer, who are carefully managing their schedules in the twilight of their careers, are unlikely to attempt winning back-to-back Grand Slams and will probably for one or the other.

The US Open is brutal in terms of heat and recovery, while the French is physicality demanding because of the clay.

With the current situation worsening in respect of CORVID-19, who knows if we will see tennis played on the grass, let alone later in the year.

Meanwhile, Rafa has sent a warm message to those who have been fighting against coronavirus outbreak.

“Hi, everyone. First of all, I just wanted to apologise because I was out of social media for some time, but these are tough times for everyone,” Nadal wrote on Twitter.

“This whole situation is overwhelming us and we are all committed in the best possible way from our homes.

“I wanted to thank all the doctors, nurses and all the health personnel who are all protecting us, the police forces, civil and national guard, the army, and all those who make us feel a little safer, who are in the first line of fire.

“After all, they are those who are most at risk of catching the virus; they are our heroes. I want to express my admiration and thank you all.

“Finally, I want to send encouragement to all the families who are suffering, both the infected and especially those with relatives or friends who have died from the coronavirus.

“Send them a message of encouragement.

“It is difficult to say something in these difficult times, and I can only say in this case that we all feel very sorry, that we trust that at this moment we can go ahead with our lives as soon as possible.

“There are also positive things in these difficult times.

“We are demonstrating to be a united people, many companies are being supportive and contributing, and all citizens are showing ourselves united day after day, complying with all the standards that health department advises us: stay at home, follow all the indications to end this terrible pandemic as soon as possible.

Thank you, and see you soon, Rafa.”

Spain has been one of the most affected countries by coronavirus so far, losing almost 1,500 lives and 25,000 reported cases. Only China, Italy and Iran have more.

Nadal closed his Academy in Mallorca to the public on Saturday in a bid to avoid outside infection, meaning players and staff are now remaining inside.

“I would like to take this opportunity to put the parents’ minds at rest and to tell you all that your children are being very well looked after by a great team that is giving their all every single minute to take care of their health,” Nadal wrote in an open letter on the academy website.

“I know you want to be with your children and we hope that moment will arrive soon.

“I would also like to encourage you to stay at home. These are difficult times but together we will come through them.”

Nadal was born and raised on the Spanish island of Mallorca, and the academy, which is part of a high performance tennis centre, is located in his home town of Manacor.

Players of 42 different nationalities reside at the academy throughout the year, and Nadal attested to the ‘complicated times’ brought about by the virus.

Rafa has shown his empathy before, opening up the academy in October 2018 to offer shelter and helping rescue workers search for survivors on Spain’s holiday island after flash floods tore through the streets and swept away cars, killing 10 people.


Rafael Nadal observes a minute of silence with students and workers of the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor in 2018 to honour the victims of the flash flood that affected the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca

© Jaime Reina/AFP via Getty Images




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