Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal has said that if tennis is not safe then it does not make sense to play and that the sport must simply wait.

The world number two was speaking to a select group of media at a time when he would have been defending his Roland-Garros crown in Paris, but for the coronavirus crisis which has brought the sport to a halt.

No tour events will be staged until the end of July, and the 19-time Grand Slam champion does not think any tournaments should take place until every player feels entirely comfortable to travel and take part.

“If you asked me if I want to travel to New York today to play a tennis tournament, I will say no – I will not,” Nadal said.

“But in a couple of months, I don’t know how the situation is going to improve. My feeling is we need to be responsible, sending strong messages, and be a positive example for the society.

“We need to understand we are suffering an unprecedented situation and my feeling is we need to come back when all the players, from all the countries of the world, are able to travel under safe circumstances. I want to see my sport being 100% fair and correct.

“The key, of course, is to find a medicine that helps us to be sure we can travel and compete without being scared of having the virus and bringing back the virus home. My feeling is we need to wait a little bit more.”

The 34-year-old moved on to talk about his own fitness and revealed that he is only gradually returning to intensive training, having not played tennis in a meaningful way for two-and-a-half months.

“As you can imagine, I need to take things step by step,” he said. “I just try to avoid injuries and increase the amount of work every single week. I’m not practising every single day, I’m just practising a couple of days a week.

“I don’t even feel in my mind like defending champion [at Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows]. I just feel myself like coming back from zero and we start again and that’s it. No, is not like a normal situation that I feel myself I have to defend this, I have to defend the other thing.

“Everybody is suffering; there’s a lot of people losing lives. My mind is not thinking about if I have to play the US Open or I don’t have to play the US Open [or if] I have to play Roland Garros. I just trying to enjoy my personal life a little bit, just trying to do the right things today.

“I need a plan, but today everything is difficult to predict so I don’t want to stress myself. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself. When we have the clear information, I am sure that with the team we are going to be able to find a solution.”