At midnight on Thursday, increasing his efforts to raise awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic, Rafael Nadal was one of the biggest names on a record-breaking day for radio in Spain. In a programme broadcast simultaneously on El Partidazo (Cadena Cope) and El Transistor (Onda Cero), two of the biggest night-time sports programmes, the Mallorcan reflected on the tough times we are going through as a society.

In a programme that brought together a range of figures from Spanish sport, including basketball player Pau Gasol, racing driver Fernando Alonso and goalkeeper Iker Casillas — with contributions in Spanish from Novak Djokovic who is spending his time isolated in Marbella, Malaga — Nadal was keen to talk about the need to join forces and together overcome one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.

“I’m coping with it better now than three weeks ago.” said the Mallorcan, who has been in confinement since 14 March, the day on which the state of emergency was officially declared in Spain. “Although we have been in confinement for longer and the situation is what it is, we human beings adapt to what we have to. Without a doubt, we are capable of that.”

In the face of this global threat that knows no borders, Nadal is keeping up his humanitarian activities. Nadal was the driving force behind the #NuestraMejorVictoria (Our Best Victory) campaign a few weeks ago, bringing together Spain’s sports stars in order to raise €11 million for the Spanish Red Cross. Later, encouraging people to work together, he donated one of the shirts in which he won the 2019 Roland Garros final to the charity campaign created by the Basketball Clubs Association (ACB), raising more than €20,000 to fight the social impact of the health emergency caused by COVID-19.

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“At the beginning of it all, the events happening were so terrible that it made it difficult to want to do anything,” recognised Nadal from his home in Spain, where the pandemic has cost more than 18,000 lives. “I had a week in which I was practising sport but without much interest. I was sad, of course, and in some ways lethargic. I found it hard to find the energy to get up and do things that helped me feel better. It really was getting very difficult.”

Surrounded by his loved ones, the 19-time Grand Slam champion is making an effort to keep up his physical activity within the confines of the current situation.

“I was in front of the television all day, listening to what they were telling us and there was nothing positive. I found it difficult to isolate myself from all that. As the days have gone by, little by little I’ve returned to my routines, doing fitness training in the morning and afternoon, and thinking positively,” said the current World No. 2, whose social media activity is focussed on giving people hope.

“There are a lot of people that are really struggling. We are as well as can be expected and there is no reason at all to be negative. Only to try, in some way, to help and contribute as far as our means allow us. We have to help the people that are really struggling, which is not us.”

As Spain faces its fifth week of confinement and limited movement, which will remain in place until 26 April, Nadal is approaching the situation with patience and perseverance.

“I don’t have any courts at home and I’m not that worried about it. In the situation we’re going through, the thing that worries me the least at the moment is tennis,” reasoned the Spaniard. “I’m doing work at home so that my body doesn’t atrophy more than it already may have. From there, I’m very aware of the fact that this is very serious, that it is long-term and there are so many people that are suffering a really terrible reality. The least important thing at this time is sport.”



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