"You walk on court, you feel the crowd supporting...that moment, that feeling is great. The connection, the interaction with the fans have been very important..." he had commented at the Brisbane International last year.
but Rafael Nadal's success will truly be tested if fans are banned from tournaments this year due to the virus concerns throughout the world. It was four months ago that the Spaniard's patience was tried at the ATP Cup tournament, Spain against Serbia and it became the breaking point of the event.
The crowd was very much on the side of Serbia in general and specifically the No. 1 player in the world, Novak Djokovic. "Honestly the crowd was fantastic every single day but sometimes people from some countries, they probably don't understand how tennis goes.
They think it's (like) football and stuff...the respect from a small part of the crowd (wasn't) there," Nadal had explained when he was down 2-5 and then the result was a loss of the ATP Cup title. Since the coronavirus situation, resuming tournaments it's normal spectrum with the amount of people attending would be unhealthy.
Event organizers have thought of just having no fans or audience in the stands as the UTR events so that the tournaments would be able to continue. But it's the roar of the crowds, their applause as players come into the stadium and seeing fans watching the rallies and strategies that can't be duplicated.
Last month in the Chicago Tribune newspaper interview, Rafael Nadal's mood was very realistic. He had admitted that "I would be OK playing without fans, even though that's not what we want..." The main concern was how starting again on tour and the effects it would have on his and the other players' bodies.
This is what scares him. "When I hit a ball again, my arm is going to hurt in several places...my wrist, my elbow...when you are out of action, the risk of an injury is a lot greater than whenyou are exercising..."
he had explained. The idea of not seeing and hearing the crowd would be a rude awakening too but possibly not as much as the transition his body would go through in starting back strenuous competition again. Every player is waiting for the tour to just resume.
They know that the crowds are what gets them going but so does the sport itself. Being out of competition for over three months is taking a toll on their psyche. The longer the tour takes to start, the more the Spaniard and others think that this 2020 season may not happen.
Rafael Nadal's success will be tested time and again if fans are banned from tournaments. Time will tell though if the Spaniard and others can admust to not having the emotional, vocal support in the stands. Tennis may possibly be formulated into a much different atmosphere of limited interaction that could prove suitable to players and fans alike.