Wimbledon, England. Matteo Berrettini, a finalist at last year’s Wimbledon, withdrew from the tournament on Tuesday after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Berrettini’s announcement of his withdrawal came just two hours before he was scheduled to enter the court for his first round match against Christian Garin and was the final blow to an already shorter-than-usual grand slam by stars and who was deprived of rating points for this edition of the men’s and women’s tennis tours.
Berrettini, who was undefeated on grass courts this season, took first place. 8 at Wimbledon, was one of the top contenders for the men’s singles title. His departure came the day after another player, Marin Cilic, No. 1. The 14th seed from Croatia and the 2017 Wimbledon finalist also withdrew after testing positive.
The double waiver has raised the possibility of an outbreak among Wimbledon players, who are missing several stars due to injury and tournament play. ban of Russian and Belarusian players.
Berrettini and Cilic have been in contact with many players in recent weeks. Both played in the grass tournament at the Queen’s Club in London which ended on 19 June, Berrettini won the singles title and Cilic advanced to the semi-finals.
Both trained at Wimbledon last week and used the dressing room reserved for the seeded players. Berrettini practiced on Center Court Thursday with No. 1.2 seed Rafael Nadal. Cilic trained on center court with Novak Djokovic. 1 seed.
Djokovic, who has said he is still not vaccinated against the coronavirus, won his first round match on Monday by defeating South Korea’s Kwon Sung-woo in four sets. Djokovic served particularly well, but was far from the best in other areas: at one stage he looked pale and depleted, and at the shift he poured water. On Tuesday, Nadal played at Wimbledon for the first time since 2019, beating Francisco Cerundolo in four sets in the first round on Center Court.
Wimbledon has been canceled in 2020. because of the pandemic and introduced strict restrictions last yearfollowing UK government guidelines. Coronavirus testing was required for players, cheerleaders, tournament officials and staff. But with the easing of government mandates this year, Wimbledon does not currently require testing.
The All England Club said in a statement that its policy is “in line with generally accepted practice throughout the UK”.
The club said some health and safety measures are still in place. “We support expanded hand cleaning and disinfection operations and offer full medical care to anyone who feels unwell,” the statement said.
Masks are not required at the tournament, and they are rare on site. But the player’s medical team continues to wear them for any consultation. They are also worn by the racquet stringer team on the court. The club stressed that Wimbledon’s health and safety policy is reviewed regularly and may be updated.
But the tournament clearly has a problem that could get even worse.
Overall, five of the top 20 men were unable to play at Wimbledon due to disqualification, injury or illness. No. Daniil Medvedev of Russia was suspended from the competition after Russian invasion of Ukraineand Wimbledon’s decision to ban the Russians and their allies from entering Belarus led the Tours to retaliate by removing ranking points from the tournament.
No. Alexander Zverev, runner-up, was out for an extended period with a torn ligament in his right ankle at the French Open.
There were also early disturbances. Hubert Hurkacz, no. The seventh seed and a strong opponent, on Monday in five sets in the first round lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokin. Felix Auger-Aliassime, no. 6th seed, lost to Maxime Cressy in four sets on Tuesday.
Berrettini, the burly 6ft 6in Italian, has missed several months this season with surgery on his right, primary playing arm. But this month he returned for the grass season and won back-to-back titles in Stuttgart and at the Royal Club.
“I had flu-like symptoms and have been in isolation for the past few days,” Berrettini wrote on social media. “Even though the symptoms were not severe, I decided it was important to have another test this morning to protect the health and safety of my fellow competitors and everyone else in the tournament.”
Berrettini and Cilic, like many top players, stayed in private apartments at Wimbledon rather than one of the central London players’ hotels. This could reduce the risk of infection, but there is a new sense of acceptance in the player community with the virus. Many have had the coronavirus, including Djokovic, Nadal and Coco Gauff.
“I’m pretty sure I had Covid so I’m less scared than before,” said Maria Sakkari, who is fifth in women’s singles, after winning the first round on Tuesday. “We have to get back to normal life again.”
Sakkari equated contracting the coronavirus with food poisoning, which could also lead to a withdrawal from the tournament. French player Alize Cornet said the virus has become “part of the landscape”.
“There have always been injuries and illnesses,” she told French reporters on Tuesday, saying there were many unreported cases of coronavirus among players at the recent French Open. “Everyone in the dressing room had it and we didn’t say anything,” she said, suggesting that some of the players had symptoms but didn’t test themselves.
“We are not going to test ourselves and create problems for ourselves,” she said. “I saw some women wearing masks because they didn’t want to spread it.”
Gauff said she was happy that testing was not mandatory for players and said she was glad testing was no longer “every day or every other day”.
“I don’t want to go back to it,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to get tested, but it’s also a hassle. I think with vaccines and everything, we kind of know that the viral load is low and it’s very hard to pass it on if you’re a vaccinated person.”
But she said she would check to see if she had symptoms and encouraged her peers to do the same.
Berrettini hasn’t been in the All England court since Saturday and now, despite his amazing serve and forehand, he’ll have to wait until next year.
“I have no words to describe the extreme disappointment I feel,” he said. “The dream ended this year, but I will come back stronger.”
33-year-old Cilic also got back in shape, beating Medvedev in the fourth round of the French Open en route to the semi-finals. With his long arm span, huge serve and flat base power, he is dangerous on grass and, like Berrettini, has been one of the players to watch closely in the bottom half of the men’s draw.
Cilic could face Nadal in the fourth round; Berrettini could have faced him in the semi-finals. But now Nadal’s path looks less intimidating if he stays healthy.