Rafael Nadal has told other tennis players whingeing about their quarantine conditions ahead of the Australian Open to stop complaining and have a ‘wider perspective’.
The world No.2 is only allowed out of his hotel room to train and practice for five hours a day as part of his strict quarantine process in Adelaide.
Victorian authorities have though completely confined another 72 players to their room after positive Covid-19 cases were found on flights that brought them into Australia.
Novak Djokovic last week issued a list of demands calling for the hard quarantine rules to be eased, but Nadal said players should be grateful Australian authorities let them into the country in the first place.
Nadal, pictured centre, arrives at Adelaide Airport ahead of the Australian Open on January 14. He has called on other players in quarantine ahead of the tournament to be grateful they were let into Australia at all
About 1,200 international players and officials were given exemptions to enter Australia on charter flights ahead of the shortened tournament scheduled to begin on February 8.
‘Of course it is a different situation than usual, but at least we’re here,’ the Spaniard told CNN on Tuesday when asked what the last two weeks had been like.
‘We’re going to have the chance to play here, and the world is suffering in general. So we can’t complain.
‘We only can say thanks to Tennis Australia, to the Australian community, to welcome us and accept us to come, because I know they have been under very strict measures for a lot of months. For us it is good at least that we can keep playing tennis.’
When asked for his thoughts on players complaining about the situation, the Spaniard said his sympathy for the players in hard quarantine only went so far.
‘When we came here, we knew the measures are going to be strict because we knew that the country is doing great with the pandemic,’ he said.
‘You have a little bit wider perspective of what’s going on in the world, you have to think and say “well, OK, I am not happy to be 14 days in my own room without having the chance to practice, to go out, to do my normal preparation for a tournament”.
Yulia Putintseva, No. 28 in the WTA rankings, last week posted a photo to Instagram of herself holding up a sign that reads: ‘We need fresh air to breathe’
‘On the other hand you see how many people are dying around the world – you see how many people are losing their father, their mums, without having the chance to say goodbye.
‘It is a real thing. That’s what’s happening in my country, for example, and close people to me are suffering these situations. So when you see all of this, you have to stay a little bit more positive.’
His response follows a host of locked-down players including women’s world 28 Yulia Putintseva lashing out at everything from the food and lack of fresh air to the inability to practice and having to wash their own hair.
Putintseva, No. 28 in the WTA rankings, last week posted a photo to Instagram of herself holding up a sign that reads: ‘We need fresh air to breathe’.
Spanish tennis star Roberto Bautista Agut meanwhile compared hard quarantine in Melbourne to ‘jail with Wi-Fi’.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic earlier appealed to Open organisers to ease restrictions in a wish list reported on Monday, including a request to shift as many players as possible in Melbourne to private residences with tennis courts.
Djokovic’s requests were refused by the Victorian government.
The 33-year-old later defended himself – arguing he had good intentions and wanted to use his ‘privilege’ to help other competitors who are unable to practice.
Along with the likes of Nadal and Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic is serving his 14-day quarantine in luxury apartments in Adelaide and is allowed to train for five hours a day
‘My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult, and ungrateful. This couldn’t be farther from the truth,’ he wrote in an impassioned Instagram post.
In his statement, Djokovic said he ‘genuinely cares’ about his fellow players and wants to help them.
‘It is very difficult for me to be a mere onlooker knowing how much every help, gesture, and good word mattered when I was small and insignificant in the world pecking order,’ he wrote.
‘Hence I use my position of privilege to be of service as much as I can where and when needed.’
NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S OPEN LETTER TO AUSTRALIA IN FULL
In light of recent media and social media criticism for my letter to Craig Tiley (Tournament director of the Australian Open), I would like to clarify a few things.
My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult, and ungrateful. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Not every act is taken at its face value and at times when I see the aftermath of things, I do tend to ask myself if I should just sit back and enjoy my benefits instead of paying attention to other people’s struggles. However, I always choose to do something and be of service despite the challenging consequences and misunderstandings.
I genuinely care about my fellow players and I also understand very well how the world is run and who gets bigger and better and why. I’ve earned my privileges the hard way, and for that reason, it is very difficult for me to be a mere onlooker knowing how much every help, gesture, and good word mattered when I was small and insignificant in the world pecking order. Hence I use my position of privilege to be of service as much as I can where and when needed.
I have always had a very good relationship with Craig, and I respect and appreciate all the effort he puts into making the Australian Open a place to look forward to coming back to each year.
In our email exchange I used an opportunity to brainstorm about potential improvements that could be made to the quarantine of players in Melbourne that were in full lockdown.
There were a few suggestions and ideas that I gathered from other players from our chat group and there was no harm intended to try and help. I was aware that the chances were low that any of our suggestions would be accepted, just like my request to quarantine with my team in Melbourne instead of Adelaide, was denied prior to our travel because of strict government regulations.
Since I couldn’t be with other players in Melbourne, I made myself available to them if needed.
I understand that organising international sporting events during a pandemic poses health risks to the local community and to the players themselves. Therefore, I would like to express my full gratitude to Tennis Australia, the Australian government and local citizens for being willing to take this risk with us for the love of the game and the multiple opportunities it brings to the economy of the country and its people.
We are honoured, and we will all do our best to follow the guidelines and protocols put in place. We do hope that we will be able to nurture our bodies and be ready for the mental and physical endurance and strength tests that are ahead of us once the competition starts.
Things in the media escalated and there was a general impression that the players (including myself) are ungrateful, weak, and selfish because of their unpleasant feelings in quarantine.
I am very sorry that is has come to that because I do know how grateful many are. We all came to Australia to compete. Not being able to train and prepare before the tournament starts is really not easy. None of us ever questioned 14 days of quarantine despite what is being said by media outlets.
I am very much looking forward to playing in front of the people and joining the tennis frenzy and energy of the city that has always carried me towards many victories. I am also looking forward to seeing all my fellow players together in Melbourne. I am blown away by the numerous messages of gratitude and love that I have received during these past few days.
Wishing you all health and love,