Rafael Nadal hopes relations between Spain and Catalonia improve amid heightened political tensions in his home nation.
The region declared independence after a controversial vote – deemed illegal by Spain’s constitutional court – returned results said to be overwhelmingly in favour of secession.
Direct rule over Catalonia was then imposed by the central government, which dissolved the regional parliament and slated fresh elections for December 21.
Mallorca-born Nadal, whose uncle Miguel Angel Nadal played for Barcelona from 1991 to 1999, labelled the situation “sad” and hopes for a positive outcome to the crisis.
“I was born in a democratic country so I believe in my country and I believe in my people,” said Nadal.
“You have to understand that in my situation it’s very difficult to answer these kind of things because things are very sensitive.
“Anything that I can say will not go the right way because for some – there are always people that are going to be against that. For me, it is difficult to talk 100 per cent freely about the situation because you only create damage on some people, and there is enough damage already created.
“The only thing I want is that things get better. I don’t want the fracture between people in Catalonia. I feel close to Catalonia. I love the people in Catalonia, and most of the Spanish people feel the same.
“Love from the rest of the Spanish country, it feels love for Catalonia and that’s it. And that’s the reason. That’s why we are sad about that situation.”
Nadal will begin his Paris Masters campaign against Chung Hyeon and can clinch the year-end number one ranking with Roger Federer sitting out the tournament.
However, the 16-time grand slam champion – who is aiming to move clear of Novak Djokovic in France with a record 31st ATP 1000 title – is simply focused on the task at hand.
“I need to win a match. I’m here to try my best, as in every tournament,” he said. “Hopefully if this [number one] happens, it will be something important for me.
“But the season is not over and it’s not the moment to think much about that.
“I’ll just try to think about trying to have the right preparation for the tournament and then try to be ready for the first match.”