Rafael Nadal with the first Grand Slam the match in more than seven months is on the horizon, returning due to a painful problem with his left foot, which limited him to one tournament in the last half of last season, and in December he won COVID-19.
Lots to talk about, right? He is, after all, the owner of 20 major championships and one of the most important personalities in the history of tennis. His mere presence at Saturday’s press conference ahead of the Australian Open tournament was worth informing – or would be on almost any other occasion.
Ah, yes, the preparation for this OP Australia has been and seems to continue to be, all about Novak Djokovic and his hope of defending the title in a competition that requires vaccination while not being vaccinated against the coronavirus. So Nadal’s words and body language spoke for many in the world of tennis as he shrugged, exhaled and said this about the saga of his longtime rival, whether he will play or not: “Honestly, I’m a little tired of the situation.”
“The Australian Open is far more important than any player,” Nadal said. “If he plays, it’s finally okay. If he doesn’t play, the Australian Open will be a great Australian Open, with or without him. That’s my position.”
Unlike Djokovic, Nadal got his shots. Like a total of 97 top 100 in the ATP rankings and 96 top 100 in the WTA rankings.
“All of this could have been avoided, as we all did by getting vaccinated, doing everything we had to do to get here to Australia,” said two-time grand champion Garbiñe Muguruza, a 28-year-old from Spain, which is the 3rd carrier in the female group. “Everyone knew the rules very clearly. You just have to follow them and that’s it. I don’t think it’s that hard. “
For now, No. 1 seed Djokovic is set to play on Monday, the 1st day of the first major tournament of the year, where both he and Nadal could win the 21st Grand Slam Cup, beating the men’s line they currently share with Roger Federer.
Before that, however, Djokovic – and it seems that everyone else who is interested in tennis or the latest developments in some way related to the pandemic – will wait to see what will happen at Sunday’s trial regarding his secondary appeal . the Australian government revoked his visa.
He could be deported.
“I’m not going to lie: the last few weeks have been in almost all the news. This received a lot of attention. Apparently a lot of people are talking about it, ”said Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 23-year-old from Greece who is the 4th Melbourne Park and was runner-up behind Djokovic at last year’s French Open. “That’s why I’m here to talk about tennis. … There hasn’t been enough talk about tennis in the last few weeks, which is a shame. ”
The Australian Open – known as the “Happy Slam” – usually serves as a kind of festive start to the new tennis season.
Players have the opportunity to rest, recharge and prepare during the season. They have a clean or mostly clean, depending on whether they have played any setup matches. Some appear with wrinkles in their style of play. Some come with a new coach who wants to see how the relationship will turn out.
“It feels like it’s taking away rivals who just want to get started. We’re just impatient to go out and compete. The Australian Open is always an amazing event, my home slam, my favorite tournament, ”said 32-year-old Alex de Minaur, a 22-year-old Australian. “In the end, tennis is an individual sport and we have all been here in Australia for some time and are preparing for this tournament. We all just want to get on with our stuff. “
There are usually a lot of stories and areas of intrigue in Melbourne. As it is, this time it was destined to be a little different, given the noteworthy actresses who are absent for one reason or another, including Federer, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.
But Nadal’s return to slam tournaments for the first time since his June semi-final defeat to Djokovic in Paris is a big deal.
He is also defending the arrival of Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka with, as he says, a fresh look after two mental health breaks in 2021, including the one that ended its season in September.
Given Osaka’s candid revelations about depression and anxiety, Saturday made sense when she smiled. When she was joking with reporters. When she seemed as comfortable as possible.
Just like Nadal. He said he was thrilled to be back on tour. He practiced well. He mentioned his “positive attitude” and “working spirit”.
It was only when the topic was Djokovic that Nadal sounded less than excited.
“I wish him all the best. I really respect him, “Nadal said of someone who played the record for the 2006 tour 58 times,” although I (dis) agree with a lot of the things he’s done in the last few weeks. “
Pye reported from Melbourne; Fendrich reported from Washington.
More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports