Murray says resuming season stalled by pandemic not top priority

(Reuters) – Resuming the tennis season stalled by the coronavirus pandemic is not the most important thing as players first want to live their normal lives again, former world number one Andy Murray said.

Tennis – Davis Cup Finals – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – November 20, 2019 Britain’s Andy Murray reacts during his match against Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor REUTERS/Susana Vera

Professional tennis has been suspended since March because of the outbreak and the ATP and WTA Tours have said the hiatus will continue at least until mid-July.

Murray had previously said that tennis would be one of the last sports to resume.

“I’m sure all tennis players want to get back to competing as soon as possible,” Murray said following his win over Rafa Nadal in the virtual Madrid Open esports tournament.

“But right now, that is not the most important thing. First of all, we want to get our normal lives back. Then, hopefully, over time things will start to allow for travelling and sport will be able to go back to normal.

“But I don’t see that happening very soon … The first thing is to try and find a way to stop the virus spreading and once we’ve done that we’ll be able to do more normal things rather than thinking about competing in sport.”

Murray said reopening borders for international travel could stall the progress made in curbing the spread of the virus.

“If we get back to international travel, then maybe there could be a second wave of infections,” he said.

“That would slow everything down again and that’s not what anyone wants. Let’s just get things back to normal first.”

Murray also had a bit of banter with Nadal after handing out the Spanish 19-times Grand Slam singles champion a lesson in video game.

In a post-match interview, Murray said: “If you speak to Rafa, tell him not to be such a bad loser next time.”

“I don’t need to train a lot to beat him in this game. He’s not very good,” Murray joked, after his 3-0 win during which he lost only one point. “If I practised a lot, it would have been even worse for him today!”

Nadal said he was not in the frame of mind to go out and compete on a tennis court when the lockdown ends.

“My hope is to see my family and friends again and to go out for a party or to the sea to swim,” the 33-year-old told the Spanish press recently. “I want to feel free again and be able to hug my loved ones, as I’m a loving person.

“I can’t conceive a future where I can’t hug players I haven’t seen in months.”

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru and Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Robert Birsel

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