Nadal and Halep say they’re ready for Rome

Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep both say that they have no regrets about skipping the US Open to focus on the clay court season which begins in Rome.

Nadal, who has won nine titles in the Italian capital, is seeded second behind world No.1 Novak Djokovic and his second round tie against US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta will be his first match since February.

“I know I have a tough first round against Pablo,” said Spaniard Nadal about his compatriot, who reached the semi-finals in New York.

“(It’s) gonna be a good test. I’m excited about going back to the competition without big expectations.”

The 19-time grand slam winner will then defend his French Open title later in September but did express concern about the coronavirus situation in France where cases are rising.

“Let’s see how the virus evolves the next couple of weeks. Hopefully is in a good way,” he said.

“We need to be patient and we need to wait about how the situation improves.”

Romania’s Halep is the top seed in the women’s draw who will start in the second round and says skipping the US Open was the right decision but the global pandemic still makes her feel uneasy.

“I feel like my decision was great for the health issue and to feel like relaxed inside,” said the two-time major champion.

“I’m a little bit scared of what is going on in the world, but (in Rome) I feel safe.”

Seeded players have already suffered early exits in Rome with Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime falling 6-4 7-5 to Serbian Filip Krajinovic and Russian 11th seed Karen Khachanov being ousted in three sets by Norway’s Casper Ruud 6-3 3-6 6-1.

In the women’s draw, American Amanda Anisimova is through after a 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6) victory over Croatian 16th seed Donna Vekic.