New York (AP) – Tennis legend Boris Becker criticizes the latest corona farce at the US Open as “unfair,” world number one Novak Djokovic complains of “contradictions” – and many professionals have no idea about the latest measures.
The first Grand Slam tournament after the pandemic-related forced hiatus, which was highly controversial from the outset, has been accompanied by heated debates about how to deal with French pro Benoît Paire’s positive test result at halftime. Over the weekend, the world’s best women’s doubles were disqualified because French Kristina Mladenovic was one of the contact persons for the pair who tested positive for Covid-19. Adrian Mannarino, who also played with Paire in the hotel lobby, got to play against Alexander Zverev.
“That is unfair and not correct. It makes no sense,” said Becker in his role as a TV pundit for Eurosport. He described it as “always bad when politics gets involved in sports” and complained that “normally the same law should apply to everyone”. The organizing American tennis association does not give a good picture at all in all the trials.
With a kind of non-communication, the USTA is intensifying discussions about transparency and traceability of pending decisions. Ultimately, New York State health authorities admitted the judgment of New York City colleagues and pushed them aside. Mannarino was just lucky that there was a bit of a crisis Friday between the USTA, New York City, Nassau district (where most of the professionals on Long Island live in their so-called bubble hotels) and New York state.
Even Djokovic tried to call New York Governor Andrew Cuomo before winning in the third round against German Davis Cup player Jan-Lennard Struff. “I have tried to reach people in the top positions,” said Serbian number one.
That Mannarino owed his appearance to the honesty of Zverev, who agreed to the waiting time of several hours and the postponement, was almost lost in the discussions. Mannarino in any case escaped disqualification (and was eliminated against Zverev), while number one seeded double Mladenovic / Timea Babos (Hungary) was excluded from the rest of the tournament. From that point on, both Mladenovics and Mannarinos were all negative. And both were allowed to compete in their previous individual competitions – although they had already been in touch with Paire.
Djokovic spoke of “inconsistencies” in the quarantine rules. Mladenovic’s French colleague Alizé Cornet was “shocked” and said: “This is absolutely crazy, she played her first round in singles and doubles and now she’s suddenly kicked out of the tournament. It’s brutal.” The French sports newspaper “L’Équipe” even chose the drastic headline “An amateur tournament” in its Sunday edition, but also aptly formulated the dilemma: “You do not know who the organizers or politicians should judge for it.”
Meanwhile, all the professionals that Paire has appointed as contact persons are no longer there – but they are not allowed to go home for the time being. They also don’t exercise. Instead, they must remain in quarantine in their rooms at the Long Island hotels until this Friday. This in turn means that they could no longer arrive on time for the clay tournament in Rome and for the corona tests that are planned there.
It now seems increasingly questionable whether all involved were aware of the consequences of their US Open engagement. After all, the players had to sign strict hygiene and safety protocols – but these have now been tightened up again. “I’m curious how things will continue now,” said Becker. After all, the organizers were spared the horror scenario of the Adria tour co-organized by Djokovic: no one can imagine what would have happened if there had been not one but several corona cases in the first days.