Rafael Nadal doesn’t think tennis is worth it in 2020.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion would rather focus on a normal 2021 season instead.
Nadal told newspapers in his native Spain on Tuesday that he would prefer for the sport to focus on preparing for the Australian Open in January to kick off next year’s Grand Slam season than try to salvage this year’s slate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would sign up right now just to being ready for 2021,” Nadal told El País, per the Associated Press. “I’m more concerned with the Australian Open than with what happens later this year. I think 2020 has been practically lost. I’m hopeful of being able to start next year.”
State of the 2020 Grand Slams
The 2020 Australian Open was played prior to COVID-19 taking hold as a global pandemic. The French Open — the second major on the tennis calendar — was postponed from its May 24 start date in hopes of starting play Sept. 20.
The September start date would place it after the U.S. Open which is still on schedule for an Aug. 24 start date. The U.S. Open is traditionally the last tournament on the Grand Slam calendar.
Wimbledon reportedly had an insurance policy in place with a $140 million payout and made the early decision to cancel the summer tournament altogether.
Why give up on 2020?
The placement of the clay-court French Open immediately after conclusion of the hard-court season drew initial criticism from many in the tennis community in part because of a congested schedule and the difficulties of transitioning so quickly from one surface to another.
Nadal expressed on Tuesday concern that improper conditioning as players are prohibited from using training facilities presents an injury risk if they are rushed back into tournament play.
Surprising stance at this stage in Nadal’s career
The injury fear explains why Nadal, who has limited opportunities to add to his legacy at 33 years old, is in favor of wiping out the rest of the calendar.
“Sadly, I’m not going to lie to you, the feeling is that we are losing a year of our lives,” Nadal said. “And at 33, 34 years old, that is more valuable than at 20, when you have more time ahead of you.”
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