Rafa Nadal Academy proposed as hub for ATP, WTA events

Rafael Nadal competes in the 2020 Mexican Open (by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

The Rafa Nadal Academy, a tennis complex located in the hometown of the men’s world No.2, has offered itself up as a hub for ATP Tour and women’s WTA Tour players to compete during Covid-19, adding that televised matches could be staged.

With the ATP and WTA suspending their tours until at least July 13, the two tennis organisations are currently considering their calendar options. Located in the town of Manacor on the island of Mallorca, the Rafa Nadal Academy has said it could be provide a “safe environment” for players to train and compete over the next few months.

The proposal would see the Rafa Nadal Academy potentially become a campus where elite players can reside, train and compete between themselves in televised matches. Carlos Costa, head of business development at the Rafa Nadal Academy, said: “In recent weeks we have made our facilities available to chairman of the ATP, Andrea Gaudenzi, with the goal of possibly making the Academy a centre for the coming together of players so that they can train in an environment that is ideal for first-class competition.

“While the priority is obviously for a resumption of play for the regular Tour, the ATP is evaluating all options, keeping in mind health and safety as the top priority.”

The Academy believes it has the facilities to stage such an event, pointing to its successful hosting of the Rafa Nadal Open, an ATP Challenger Tour tournament, for the past two years. Costa said: “At the Rafa Nadal Sports Centre, we have the capacity to host a significant number of players and coaches so that they can train and compete without having to leave the Academy.

“We have a large fitness centre, a semi-Olympic swimming pool and a spa that would allow them to have a good preseason and to reach peak fitness. The size of the facilities would also allow, if necessary, the logistics to be organised to respect any sanitary and social-distancing protocols.”

Nadal, who is said to be the driving force behind the initiative, added: “Right now tennis takes a back seat and the most important thing is everyone’s health, but if in the coming months the Academy can be used to help other professional players, I’d be delighted if they could come to train and also to compete. Although we have no upcoming tournaments, I think that competing among ourselves would help us maintain our game for when the tour restarts.”

In other news, Novak Djokovic said he has held talks with Nadal and Roger Federer about working with the ATP to establish a fund aimed at helping lower-ranked players who are struggling financially during the pandemic.

In an Instagram Live session with three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, world No.1 Djokovic described “a long conversation” with Federer and Nadal about “how we can contribute and how we can help lower-ranked guys who obviously are struggling the most”.

Djokovic spoke of attempting to secure between $3m (€2.8m) and $4.5m to distribute to players ranked from around 200th and 250th in the world down to about 700th, adding that a system would be devised to determine those in most need of aid.

Djokovic said the ATP and “most likely” the grand slam tournaments would participate.