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Rafael Nadal intends to play French Open next month after pulling out of US Open over coronavirus fears

RAFAEL NADAL intends to play the French Open next month – but reckons the US Open does not carry a Covid-19 asterisk following his withdrawal.

And the Spaniard hopes lessons have been learned by tennis authorities from Novak Djokovic’s shambolic Adria Tour.

On Tuesday evening, the 19-time Grand Slam champion announced he would not travel to New York to defend his singles title at Flushing Meadows.

It was a huge blow to US Open chiefs, especially as Nadal has serious ambitious of winning a 13th clay-court crown in Paris instead.

Nadal, 34, said: “Yes, it’s in my mind and I’m preparing for it, but we have to wait for events, to see how it evolves.

“It’s true that in recent weeks the situation seems to have worsened a little, but my illusion and my intention would be to be there in Paris if conditions allow.

“I’ll be preparing myself for the clay in Europe and when the moment arrives I’ll take my personal decisions.

“When the moment arrives let’s look at how the situation is around Europe whether everything is under control or not.”

Asked if the US Open was devalued without his presence, Nadal said: “The tournament is still big. It’s a Grand Slam.

“I’m not arrogant enough to say the tournament isn’t big because I’m missing.

“There will be important players. Of course a tournament under special circumstances but still a Grand Slam. And the winner will feel like the winner of a Grand Slam.

“Let’s hope the situations evolve in the best way possible and the tournament can be played in the best circumstances possible during this difficult situation.

“After speaking with my family, my team and the people around me, it forced me to take the decision, and my personal feeling at the same time.

“I’m the defending champion but my heart says today is not the moment to take long travels without knowing exactly what can and can’t happen.”

Djokovic, who remains undecided about whether to play in the hard-court Slam on August 31, was heavily criticised for hosting his Eastern European Adria Tour this summer.

The world No1 and several other stars tested positive for coronavirus following a lack of social-distancing measures.

Nadal said: “Everybody is free to do whatever works for them.

“Of course there was a mistake in the tour organised in Serbia and Croatia but mistakes are normal when you face a situation you haven’t faced before.

“It is an unknown situation for everyone. The players need to make decisions but I’m not saying mine is the valid one.

“Every decision can be valid or wrong. We are facing unpredictable situations.

“I really hope people learn from the Adria Tour and we continue in the best way possible to lead our normal lives.”

Tennis star Rafael Nadal calls on Spanish sports to help fight against covid-19

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