"Rome is always exciting...of course it will not be the same with no crowd, being in the bubble, not being able to enjoy a little bit of the City," Rafael Nadal said sourly during a pre-tournament press conference in Rome.
There was much anticipation as to how things would be after a six month layoff and the Spaniard's performance since the format would have to comply with safety and social distancing. Nadal has won the Italian Open nine times and this is the first of attending with no huge fanfares, which has completed and satisfied his performances not only there but in the World.
The first opponent was a fellow Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta who Nadal has a 5-0 win record against. There was quite a hestitation on Nadal's part upon playing even the Western and Southern and the U.S. Open in New York City.
The records of coronavirus has come down tremendously, though the Spaniard wasn't willing to take the chance on going to New York. After a letdown of the Madrid Open being cancelled by tournament director Feliciano Lopez, the next event would be the Italian Open in Rome.
Nadal opted to go there and then the French Open. But his insight into going to Rome and being matched with Carreno Busta being of his impeccable record against his comrade was to his advantage.
Rafael Nadal is through to Rome 3rd round after beating Carreno Busta
The cancellation and postponements of all the tournaments since the Pandemic had made all players sad and apprehensive to even play this season.
It was after Nadal decided to play Rome, he was glad and commented that "At least we have a tennis tournament. It's good to be back on the tour." There was definitely a void in the circumstances of the environment and that was the crowd.
Whether they are running up to him to get autographs or cheering from thestands, it completed his Rome experience. "Honestly the feeling is not the best. I'm without the crowd especially here. I miss them," Rafa sadly said.
The atmosphere is too quiet and lonely for Nadal who is used to a huge fanfare wherever he goes. Will this continued fan-less situation begin to affect Rafael Nadal's performance? Will he after a while just get used to seeing no one in the stadiums and play with the same zest and vigor as a full house? Time should tell, but his practice sessions will continue to remain constant, hopefully with the same great dynamic result in competition.