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Uncertainty over the virus worries tennis

Tennis raises its curtain in 2021, with a calendar reconfigured by the coronavirus pandemic

As the 2020 men’s tennis season culminated with the Masters Cup, Rafael Nadal summed up better than anyone a collective sentiment that remains alive as the 2021 campaign gets underway this week.

“ The world is suffering a lot, and we are very lucky that we can play tennis, ” Nadal said in London in November. “ It is the real feeling that I have. ”

After a year altered by the coronavirus, doubts about playing in the middle of a pandemic persist and a changing calendar are the central elements as the activity begins on Wednesday with the WTA Abu Dhabi Open, in which Sofia Kenin and Garbiñe Muguruza stand out.

The ATP men’s circuit gets under way with the Delray Beach Open, in which defending champion Reilly Opelka retired at the last minute with a knee injury.

Opelka joined a list of casualties _ a group that includes Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic _ from the hard-court tournament that was played last February and was advanced in early January this year as part of the adjustments in both. professional tours.

The changes include the start of the first Grand Slam date of the year. The Australian Open was delayed for three weeks and will get underway on February 8. The Indian Wells Open in California _ canceled last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak _ gave up its usual March date without knowing if it can be played later.

Additionally, Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams are aiming for several individual milestones in 2021.

Nadal could break the tie with Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam shoulder titles after reaching him with 20 at the French Open in October. Around March, Djokovic could eclipse Federer’s record of more weeks as number one in the rankings. Williams follows a singles title to reach the 24th Grand Slam, emulating Margaret Court for the most in tennis.

Other stories to follow in the year:

THE RETURN OF FEDERER

It will be more than 12 months since the 39-year-old Roger Federer’s last game when he returns after two surgeries on his right knee. Federer’s agent told The Associated Press that the Swiss intends to make a comeback in February after missing the Australian Open since making his main draw debut in the 2000 edition.

LOS SLAMS

Three were contested in 2020, as the All England Club canceled Wimbledon for the first time since World War II. For now, Wimbledon remains on its usual date, starting June 28. The French Open, which started in September instead of May, was scored for May 23. The Australian Open deals with the logistics of flights, hotels and quarantines for players and their entourages.

SUCH

The 2020 Olympics, as they continue to be called, are due to start in July. Two tennis players would steal the spotlight on host Japan: Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori. “ Having it in Japan makes it more special, ” Osaka said in an email.

CANDIDATES

Much intrigue to see all the young women who recently won their first Grand Slam title compete, such as number 1 Ash Barty (24 years old); the 3 Osaka (23); the 4 Kenin (21); the 7th Bianca Andreescu (20); and the 17 Iga Swiatek (19).

THE NEXT?

More and more hopefuls have emerged in search of a first Grand Slam title among men. Dominic Thiem entered the club last year by dedicating himself to a United States Open that was played without an audience. Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are running to be next.

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