Novak Djokovic apparently broke confinement rules in Spain by going back to a tennis court on Monday.
Djokovic posted a video on Instagram showing him exchanging shots with another man at a tennis club in the coastal city of Marbella, where the Serb has reportedly stayed.
Djokovic filmed the video while hitting shots and wrote he was “so happy to play on clay .. well, just for a bit with my phone in the hands.”
Spain on Monday loosened some of the lockdown measures that had been in place since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, allowing professional athletes to return to practice. But sports facilities are supposed to remain closed at least until next week in most parts of the country, with the exception of training centers for teams in professional leagues in sports such as soccer.
The Spanish tennis federation said in a statement on Monday that professional players in Spain were allowed to exercise by themselves or with a coach, but not yet on a tennis court. It said it would work on a set of guidelines to inform players and clubs about what they would be permitted to do beginning next week.
The federation’s statement did not appear to be related to Djokovic’s appearance on the court in Marbella.
Requests for comment made to the federation and to Djokovic’s staff late on Monday were not immediately answered.
It was not clear if Djokovic would be subjected to fines or sanctions if it was confirmed he broke the lockdown rules.
The No. 1-ranked Djokovic recently said he was against taking an anti-coronavirus vaccination if it became mandatory to travel once the pandemic subsides, though he later said he was open to changing his mind.
Spain was one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic but it started loosening some of its restrictions on movement as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 started to go down in recent weeks.
The country went into a lockdown on March 14.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal does not expect to return to play competitive tennis until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has decimated much of this year’s calendar.
“I hope we can return before the end of the year but unfortunately, I don’t think so,” the world number two told Spanish newspaper El Pais on Tuesday.
The pandemic has led to the cancellation of Wimbledon and the postponement of the French Open to September, while the status of the US Open, scheduled to take place as usual in late August, is still unclear.
Nadal, however, said he had practically written off the remainder of the year and was looking to the Australian Open in January 2021 as the next tournament he will play.
“I would sign up to being ready for 2021,” the Spaniard added.
“I’m more worried about the Australian Open than what occurs at the end of this year. I think 2020 is practically lost. I hope we can start up again next year, I really hope that’s the case.”
The governing bodies of tennis plan to announce as soon as this week they are launching a fund of more than $6 million aimed at lessening the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic for about 800 singles and doubles players.
According to an email obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, the WTA and ATP professional tours, the groups that run the four Grand Slam tournaments and the International Tennis Federation are expected to establish eligibility rules that will factor in the players’ rankings and past prize money earnings.
If $6 million were evenly distributed to 800 players, each would get $7,500.
The seven entities involved in the initiative are contributing to what the email refers to as the “Player Relief Programme,” and the money will be divided equally among men and women. The hope is additional funding will come via other sources, including donations from higher-earning players and auctions.
The email also confirms the WTA and ATP would oversee the distribution of the financial aid, something mentioned when word emerged last month of some sort of tennis fund in the works.
It follows Sunday's announcement by Grigor Dimitrov that he had also tested positive after pulling out of the exhibition event, which is one of the biggest since the tennis season was halted because of the pandemic.
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