Rafael Nadal says players preparing for the Australian Open under restrictions “can’t complain” and has stressed the importance of a “wider perspective” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Players who arrived in Australia earlier this month ahead of the tournament have been undergoing a strict quarantine process which means they can only leave their hotel rooms for several hours a day to practice.
And 72 are having to spend 14 days confined to rooms in Melbourne following positive Covid-19 cases on flights that had taken them to the country.
World number two Nadal – not among the 72 as he gets ready to compete in the tournament – told CNN’s Amanpour programme when asked what the last two weeks had been like: “Of course it is a different situation than usual, but at least we’re here.
“We’re going to have the chance to play here, and the world is suffering in general. So we can’t complain. We only can say thanks to Tennis Australia, to the Australian community, to welcome us and accept us to come, because I know they have been under very strict measures for a lot of months. For us it is good at least that we can keep playing tennis.”
When asked for his thoughts on players complaining about the situation, the Spaniard said: “Well, of course, it has been a tough situation for 72 players, plus their teams, coaches. Of course it is not the ideal situation, and of course I feel very sorry for all of them.
“But when we came here, we knew that the measures are going to be strict because we knew that the country is doing great with the pandemic. Australia probably is one of the best examples in the world, how they react through this very challenging time.
“I mean, it is normal to complain in some way.
“But on the other hand, when you have a little bit wider perspective of what’s going on in the world, you have to think and say ‘well, OK, I am not happy to be 14 days in my own room without having the chance to practice, to go out, to do my normal preparation for a tournament’, but on the other hand you see how many people are dying around the world, you see how many people are losing their father, their mums, without having the chance to say goodbye.
“It is a real thing. That’s what’s happening in my country, for example, and close people to me are suffering these situations. So when you see all of this, you have to stay a little bit more positive.”
Nadal, who says he has been practising for “around two hours, two hours 15” every day, added: “I feel that we are privileged people today, having the chance to keep doing our jobs.”
Among social media posts there have been from players that are part of the 72, Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva last week posted a picture of herself on Instagram holding up a sign reading: “We need fresh air to breathe.”
World number one Novak Djokovic last week insisted he was not being “selfish, difficult and ungrateful” in speaking out about quarantine conditions for players in Melbourne.