The Health Crisis, Competition and the 2022 season for players

     “I have tested positive for COVID in the PCR Test…when I arrived in Spain…” Rafael Nadal, ‘the King of Clay’ had revealed after playing the Abu Dhabi event. Many other players, unfortunately, had positive tests for the virus and were surprised that they’d ever would since trying to strictly follow correct protocols. Some were just ending a tournament as Nadal was and others were at the end process of finishing their warm-up event as Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic had been doing. “I recently tested positive for COVID-19…while the timing is not ideal–as I was in the final stages of my preparations for the Australian Open swing…” she went on to say that she would cope, isolate and get on with things.

     The U.S. Open women’s champion, Emma Raducanu was dealing with staying in good form after her grand slam win but was a bit unsuccessful in being consistent. She had admitted that she needed time to come into her own again and work on winning tactics. The young Brit’s sponsorships have grown from Dior to Tiffany & Co. and Evian water. But on the competitive scale she had a curved ball also in testing positive. She too wishes on being very productive again this coming year and healing well from the positive COVID infection.

     The U.S. Open women’s champion, Emma Raducanu was dealing with staying in good form after her grand slam win, but was a bit unsuccessful in being consistent. She had admitted that she needed time to come into her own again and work on winning tactics. The young Brit’s sponsorships has grown from Dior to Tiffany & Co. and Evian water. But on the competitive scale she had a curve ball thrown by testing positive. She too wishes on being very productive on the competitive courts again this coming year and healing well from the positive COVID infection.

     Despite it all the Australian Open is accumulating more media cover than predicted with questioning Novak Djokovic on his vaccine status as well as what players will participate and which one’s will call the Australian slam ‘a miss’. The first players entering the Melbourne event was Denis Shapovalov. The young Canadian who’d put on his social media, “Hi everyone, just wanted to update you that upon my arrival to Sydney, I tested positive for COVID…” It seems like it’s never-ending who or when the virus will influence no matter how mild or ordinary the symptoms.

    The games must go on though and the competition hasn’t subsided especially for Canada’s Bianca Andreescu. She improved her game with Coach Sylvain Bruneau. Four years under his guidance: three titles in 2019 including the U.S. Open. She tested positive, leaving her unable to participate in the Madrid and Rome events. She had lost in the 1st round at Roland Garros with having deep thoughts on a game improvement, Bianca released Bruneau from her team. “…I would like to inform my fans that my long time coach…have mutually decided to end our incredible relationship…I am grateful for everything we accomplished together.” August Sven Groeneveld, former coach to Maria Sharapova stepped in. “We get along …I already see a lot of improvement on the court, tennis aspect, mental aspect…I’m feeling very confident,” she expressed. Andreescu is seeing positive results and hopefully will be ready for her competitors next season.

     Caroline Garcia’s life on tour peaked in the Fall of 2017 with crowns at Wuhan and Beijing, finishing the year at No. 8 in the world. The following year, winning Tianjin and in 2019 capturing Nottingham. Garcia had coaching from her dad and trainer Louis-Paul for 10 years. But in 2020 competition stress and the pandemic Garcia’s rankings sunk to no. 45. This year the Frenchwoman only had 21 wins, 25 losses and success in only 3 matches in Grand Slams. She decided on a coaching change to Bertrand Perret taking place this month. Caroline is seeking to regain good strategies with the change to help her at the stiff competition.

     Recently, Croatia’s Marin Cilic ranked no. 30 on the ATP tour and over a decade of playing decided to split with strengthening coach Slaven Hrvoj. He also split with his tournament coach Vedran Martic to produce fresh and newer ideas on succeeding on the ATP’s tough tours. “I can still get my game to…a better level…My plans are to keep pushing myself…to again win great tournaments,” Cilic emphasized.

     It was Rafael Nadal’s positive test that shook up his playing plans. He is hopeful to be able to bounce back to true form with the start of the new season. “I am having some unpleasant moments, but I hope that I will improve little by little, ” he strongly said. Nadal knows he’ll have to not be very rigid with his scheduling and comply with how he feels after the virus infection. He says “I have to have total flexibility with my calendar and I will analyze my options…”

     The new season will hold much for all the players with their strongest fight being to stay healthy during a continuous Pandemic, train well and hope all skills will come together to produce a successfully functioning year.