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Glad and sad: Players compete in pandemic-struck French Open
“It needs to be sad, so many people in the world are suffering,” said 12-time champion Rafael Nadal
October 01, 2020
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Tennis players have mixed emotions about competing at the French Open during the coronavirus pandemic, with some finding it tough to concentrate on tennis while others appreciate getting to play all the more.
The rescheduled tournament is being played in very different conditions from usual, with only 1,000 fans on site and safety protocols limiting access around the grounds. Players are also not allowed to leave their hotels except to go to practice or to play on the grounds.
That has changed the usually bustling atmosphere around the event, according to Rafael Nadal, who is the second seed and has won the event 12 times.
“It is sad, I can’t say otherwise,” said Nadal. “A tournament under these conditions, with the coaches and physios unable to enter the locker rooms. But maybe that’s what it needs to feel like. It needs to be sad, so many people in the world are suffering.”
There were new government restrictions placed on the tournament before it started, with cases rising recently in France and elsewhere. That has some players anxious about events off the court, and can affect them on the court.
“It’s not easy at the moment to be concentrating 100 percent on tennis,” said David Goffin, who fell in the first round. “It’s like we’re a little worried about everything, whether it’s those around us, personal issues or training. I don’t know if it is a depression, that’s a strong word, but a little lack of motivation.”
But with the pro tours having recently returned from a five-month hiatus, others are just pleased to be back competing.
“I’m so happy to be at a big event. It’s always special playing Grand Slams, no matter what. I think with the time off, I appreciate the little things even more,” Eugenie Bouchard said.
And even with cold weather and tight limits on their activity, the French Open is a nice place to be for those in the field.
“I enjoy being back playing Grand Slam. It’s great to be able and have the chance to play this year French Open. Seeing what’s happening in the world, it’s something different. We are lucky to be able to play here,” Stan Wawrinka said.
Nadal, Wawrinka and Bouchard are through to the third round.