Can we train? Confusion mounts as players return to tennis courts

Can we train? Confusion mounts as players return to tennis courts

Unclear guidelines were apparent in Spain, where Novak Djokovic was misinformed about being able to hit and Marcel Granollers was stopped multiple times while working out on a beach.

The initial lift of coronavirus restrictions across parts of Europe has created confusion among players looking to return to the practice courts.

Spain has allowed athletes to return to training but sports facilities are still shut, and video of Novak Djokovic hitting provoked controversy about whether the Serbian was violating restrictions. The Puente Romano Marbella Tennis Club later apologized for misguiding the world No. 1.

"We are sorry that our interpretation of the regulation could have been erroneous, and this could have inconvenienced Mr. Djokovic or any other citizen acting in good faith," the club said in a statement after receiving clarity from the Spanish tennis federation (RFET).

Rafael Nadal also started hitting again, but not at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca where he usually trains.

"I was not sure if I can go train at the academy. So I preferred to avoid confusion and train at the private court in a friend's house," Nadal told Mundo Deportivo earlier this week. 

The RFET has now said in a statement that players can train in open air but cannot yet return to the courts, though it has since added that players can hit on courts they are allowed to enter. A full return to training is likely to happen next week.

But even a beach session created problems for Marcel Granollers, who was stopped by authorities three times for exercising during restricted hours. "I told them I had a permit as an athlete," Granollers explained to Marca.

The French tennis federation has asked the French Ministry of Sport for approval of its guidelines to play tennis starting next week. Other countries have allowed players back on the courts. Dominic Thiem has been practicing in Austria, as did Petra Kvitova in the Czech Republic. Australian players are also returning to the courts, with Alex de Minaur finding himself lacking a little timing as he gets back.