Spain tennis star Rafael Nadal gestures during a match. File
A series of professional tennis events will take place in Britain from early July as the sport continues to emerge from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said four British Tour events would be held between July 3-26, subject to confirmation of government requirements.
“Since the coronavirus crisis, we have been working incredibly hard to support all our players, venues, coaches and officials through this very challenging time,” LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd said in a statement.
“I’m delighted to announce today the next stage of elite tennis’s return to competing safely behind closed doors as part of a five-phase plan coordinated by UK Sport with Government.”
Recreational tennis has already resumed with clubs allowed to open under strict health protocols.
The British Tour events will all be staged over three days at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton with each event hosting 32 singles players (16 men and 16 women) with eligibility based on rankings.
Two of the events will be ‘Premier-level’ each offering over £16,000 ($19,750) in total prize money.
More tournaments could be held in August if the international suspension period is extended further.
No professional tournaments have been played since the start of March. The French Open has been moved to later in the year while Wimbledon will not be staged this year.
The ATP, WTA and ITF Tours will remain on hold until August at the earliest.
Nadal returns to training
Spain tennis star Rafael Nadal is back to training following the COVID-19 forced hiatus. He has started training in Mallorca at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar.
Recently, Nadal had shared a video on his social media showing the world the first footage of himself back at practice.
“Hello everyone, here I am, finally back on court. Happy to be back to my practices,” Nadal said in the video as per the ATP Tour website. “I’m super happy, too, that the kids can practise again here at the Rafa Nadal Academy. They are happy, and that’s the most important thing.”
The Spaniard had first posted an image of himself back at practice on May 22.
In normal circumstances, Nadal would be in Paris, currently participating in the Roland Garros. But following the novel coronavirus outbreak, the clay-court Grand Slam is not being held as scheduled and tournament organisers are now hoping to stage the event later this year.
Earlier in the month, he had said the entire 2020 season will be lost due to the coronavirus pandemic and that the players can only return to the court next year.
“I think 2020 is practically lost. I hope we can start up again next year, I really hope that’s the case,” Nadal was quoted as saying by El Pais.
All professional tennis activities currently remain suspended till the end of July due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has so far claimed more than 3.5 lakh lives across the globe.
ASB Classic tournament director Karl Budge announced the decision on Tuesday, saying work on hosting the tennis tournaments had been well advanced but logistical and safety issues had taken precedence.
Nadal and Djokovic were both expected back on court to play the decisive doubles rubber that will decide which country wins the 24-nation tournament.
"Every time I get to play Rafa we get to play a lot of exciting points. There were some incredible exchanges today," said Djokovic.
Rafael Nadal suffered an upset singles loss but made amends in the doubles to keep Spain alive at the ATP Cup Friday, with Novak Djokovic also surviving a scare before rallying
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