Rafael Nadal has added his voice to the chorus of tennis players expressing doubts about either their presence at the Olympic Games this summer or whether the event should be held under current circumstances.
“Honestly, I can’t give you a clear answer because I don’t know,” Nadal said at the Italian Open in Rome. “I don’t know my calendar. In a normal world I will never see about missing the Olympics, of course. There is no doubt about that. Everybody knows how important it has been for me to always play in the Olympics.
“I normally know my schedule almost 100% since the first of January till the end of the season. This year is something a little bit different, no? We need to be flexible. We need to adapt about the things that are happening.”
Serena Williams, who will turn 40 two months after the Games, has already expressed her own reservations about going to Tokyo. Her doubts stem primarily from the possibility of not being able to travel with her three-year-old daughter, Olympia.
“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself. We’re best friends,” said Williams, who has won four Olympic gold medals. “I think there are other reasons. I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about. Then there are the grand slams. It’s just a lot. So I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”
The two leading Japanese players both revealed conflicted emotions about whether the event should go ahead: “I want the Olympics to happen, because I’m an athlete and that’s sort of what I have been waiting for my entire life,” said a recently vaccinated Naomi Osaka.
“But I think that there is so much important stuff going on, and especially the past year, I think a lot of unexpected things have happened. For me, I feel like if it’s putting people at risk and if it’s making people very uncomfortable, then it definitely should be a discussion, which I think it is as of right now.”
Now a four-time grand slam title champion, Osaka is one of the faces of the Tokyo Olympics and her words were echoed by the former No 4 Kei Nishikori, who expressed doubts about whether the Olympic village would be able to contain the virus: “It’s tough to really say right now. I think they should really hold [the decision] right now, and they should decide it like before. If it’s now, I think it’s really tough.”
Andy Murray and Liam Broady received a welcome slice of luck as they were granted a late entry into the doubles main draw after withdrawals. Murray had only travelled to Rome in order to build his level by training with top opposition including Novak Djokovic. Britain’s Cameron Norrie, a recent finalist in Estoril, continued his strong form with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Roberto Carballés Baena.