Vasek Pospisil was in Indian Wells, Calif., last Sunday practising for the BNP Paribas Open when the tournament, one of the biggest on the tennis schedule, was cancelled over COVID-19 concerns.
Four days later, the ATP Tour suspended its season for at least six weeks, but Pospisil suspects it could be even longer before he plays another competitive match.
And that uncertainty is making the situation harder.
“That’s the tough part — the unknown is what makes things pretty difficult,” Pospisil said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press from his Vancouver apartment. “Not only in terms of organizing your schedule, but even mentally trying to think positive because it’s just human nature — we fear the unknown.
“That’s probably the most powerful aspect of all of this.”
This is such a difficult time. Everyone is being impacted by this catastrophe. Enhancing communication & working together to find solutions should be the priority. Not going Rogue & making selfish/arrogant decisions to further impact the tour in a negative way. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#RolandGarros</a>
The Indian Wells cancellation came after one positive COVID-19 test in the California desert area. Other tournaments soon followed suit, as did the rest of the sports world, after the World Health Organization labelled the coronavirus spread a pandemic last Wednesday.
“To be honest, it wasn’t even that I was surprised that [Indian Wells] was cancelled, it was just a time of confusion,” Pospisil said. “All the players were very confused, we didn’t know what was going to happen, we were all there training, getting ready.
“Obviously [cancelling] was the right thing to do, but the other side of it was like, ‘OK what do we do now? Where do we go?’
“So it was a very strange feeling … it’s not something that you’re ready for at all.”
‘I was playing some of my best tennis’
The 29-year-old Pospisil underwent back surgery in January 2019 and missed most of last season, tumbling from No. 70 to No. 248 in the rankings as a result, before ending strong with a remarkable performance for Canada at the Davis Cup last November.
He continued that momentum this year, going 8-5 in ATP tournaments over the first two months of the season, and made the final in Montpellier, France, last month — his first time playing for an ATP title since 2014.
“I was playing some of my best tennis and I was feeling like it was a comeback year,” the No. 93-ranked Pospisil said. “My body is feeling as good as its felt in the last six years, the surgery did wonders for my back.
“Even mentally I just came back with a totally refreshed perspective on the sport and on my life and I was very happy to be on the court.
“So I definitely felt like I kinda came to life when I came back and I stayed relatively consistent for four months or so until obviously now, until the stop of the tour.”
Pospisil, who’s used to spending time on his own as a professional athlete in an individual sport, said he hasn’t found social distancing to be too difficult yet.
Cooking could prove challenging
And while gyms and fitness studios are shuttering across Canada in an effort to quell the spread of the virus, Pospisil doesn’t think that will affect his training.
“I’m looking at it as an opportunity to rest because the tennis season is so gruelling and we don’t really ever get much down time,” he said. “I’ll be running outside in the park and then doing very basic [workouts] in my apartment because you can’t do much else.
“But it’s just about keeping the body loose and ready for when things calm down and things re-open, and when the tennis season starts up again I’ll have tons of time to get back in the gym and get fit for the first event.”
Having to cook his own meals as he practises social distancing in his apartment could be a bigger challenge for him.
“I’m a horrible cook,” Pospisil said with a laugh. “I’m always on the road so I’m always eating at restaurants, or if I’m home visiting my parents then my mom cooks.
“I’ve only really cooked one time in my life … it was 2011 I think, in Australia — chicken breast with pasta, that was it.
“So I’m going to have to Google some recipes. I have no idea.”