Rafael Nadal will return to the tennis courts after a seven-month inactivity, competing from next week at the Italian Open.
“The Foro Italico has always been a special place for me and it will be even more so this year, as it will be my first tournament after so long without playing,” Nadal said in a video that was shown during the presentation of the tournament on Tuesday.
Nadal is the owner of the record for titles in Rome, with nine.
Due to fears of traveling in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Spanish star chose not to go to New York and participate in the United States Open that will culminate on Sunday. He hasn’t played since February, when he was crowned at the Mexican Open in Acapulco.
The Italian Open, to be played between September 14 and 21, was postponed from its traditional May date. It will be the tournament that Nadal will have to get in tune with a view to the French Open at the end of the month.
World number one Novak Djokovic, who was disqualified at the US Open, will also intervene in Rome.
In total, 19 of the top 20 in the men’s rankings signed up. The great absentee is Roger Federer, the fourth of the ladder, because he is recovering from a couple of surgeries on his right knee.
Serena Williams, a four-time champion, leads the women’s draw, which includes nine of the top 10 in the ATP rankings. Number one Ash Barty is the only one missing in the spotlight.
Barty pointed to fears for his health due to the pandemic when hours earlier he announced that he will not travel to Europe for appointments in Italy and France.
The presence of the public in the Foro Italico will not be allowed, and players must remain within a “bubble” similar to that of the US Open. All players, coaches and other people working on the tournament will have to undergo frequent testing.
Players arriving from New York and other parts of the world will not have to comply with the 14-day quarantines required of regular travelers – subject to not testing positive for COVID-19.
By not being able to sell tickets to the public, the tournament’s prize pool has been reduced by 40% compared to last year.
“The economic blow to our federation is enormous,” said Italian tennis federation president Angelo Binaghi.
Binaghi had hoped until a few days ago that the Lazio region government would allow a restricted number of spectators.
“It would have been more financially logical to cancel the tournament, as many others have done,” said Binaghi.
The leader added that he has the expectation that the ATP tour will approve the holding of a new tournament in Sardinia in October, just for this year. AFP (HN).