Former Tennis Star Nicolas Lapentti Calls For US Open To Be Cancelled - UBITENNIS
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Former Tennis Star Nicolas Lapentti Calls For US Open To Be Cancelled

The ex-world No.6 has also accused French Open organisers of being selfish with their scheduling.

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Nicolas Lapentti in action during the 2010 French Open

One of South America’s best known tennis figures believes that it is unrealistic for the US Open to take place later this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Nicolas Lapentti argues that the event could pose a risk to the players as he described New York as one of the world’s ‘most contagious cities.’ There have been more than 250,000 cases with almost 15,000 deaths related to the virus in the American state, according to figures provided by The New York Times. Recently the City’s major Bill de Blasio admitted that he was unsure if public gatherings would be able to resume in August, which is when the grand slam is scheduled to take place.

“I think that the US Open should not be played, even the facilities of the Flushing Meadows are being used as a hospital or as a supply centre. Other than that, and that it could be ready, I don’t think we (the tennis players) could be ready for that time, considering that New York is an epicentre and one of the most contagious cities in the world.” 43-year-old Lapentti told Spanish news agency EFE.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is not giving up on their hopes of staging the major tournament with a final decision expected to be made in June. At present officials are still going ahead with preparations for the tournament to take place. Recently launching online virtual additions to find singers to sing on the Arthur Ashe Stadium during the night sessions. They have ruled out the prospect of holding the event behind closed doors.

The US Open isn’t the only grand slam in doubt. There are also concerns for the French Open, which has been postponed from May until the end of September due to the coronavirus. A decision that caught many in the world of tennis off guard and eventually resulted in the suspension of the Laver Cup until 2021. The team event was originally set to take place during the same time in Chicago.

“I do not agree with the decision made by Roland Garros. They should have discussed it with the other Grand Slams, with the ATP and with more people. It seemed quite selfish to me. Going out and giving a date without consulting it before seemed like a surprise to everyone and I think it was a mistake,” Lapentti commented on the decision.

No Disadvantage

All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended until July 13th, however, there is a chance that the shutdown could be extended due to the COVID-19 threat. With many players in lockdown, their training routines have been dramatically scaled back. Although the restrictions differ depending on the country.

It could be argued that some players are in a better position than others when they return to the tour. For example, in Austria Dominic Thiem has been allowed to return to training due to a change in his government’s policy. On the other hand, for British players all sports facilities remain shut.

“This does not benefit or harm anyone. I think it’s a general break,” Lapentti argues. “They all remain in the same conditions. It is still uncertain when the Tour will restart, and until this happens, it will not be known who benefited and who was harmed. They are all in the same conditions.”

The former top-10 player also believes the veterans of the sport will also not suffer physically due to the break. For Serena Williams and Roger Federer, who are both 38, he believes that the biggest issue for them is their mentality.

“It is difficult to say. It is obvious that the more time people like Federer or Serena spend, the older they are, but at the same time they are not suffering wear and tear in these months. It will be more of an attitude issue, a mental issue of whether they want to stay active and later continue competing and can do it at a great level.” He concluded.

Lapentti peaked at a high of 6th in the world with his best grand slam performance being a run to the semi-finals of the 1999 Australian Open. He is his country’s most successful Davis Cup player of all time with a total of 61 wins in the competition over a 17-year period.

Grand Slam

French Open Chief Hoping To Ease COVID-19 Related Restrictions In Coming Weeks

Former world No.4 Guy Forget says he hopes to learn from the controversy caused by the recently cancelled Adria Tour.

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The man in charge of organising this year’s French Open has said he is optimistic that there will be more flexibility in the restrictions placed upon his event as it nears its launch.

 

Guy Forget has told Reuters News Agency that he believes the clay-court major will be nowhere as strict as the US Open, which will take place a couple weeks prior. The US Open is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and players will be subjected to various measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Including regular temperature checks and being limited to how many members of their team they can bring with them. It comes as parts of America reports a rapid rise in cases of the virus.

However, Forget believes that the COVID-19 restrictions set to be implemented in New York will not apply to his tournament because the current situation in his country is not as bad. According to the BBC, more than 29,000 people have died from COVID-19 in France compared to an estimated 132,000 in America.

“Luckily things are a bit more flexible in Europe and in France, especially,” Forget told Reuters. “Hopefully, what we’re going to announce will probably be even more flexible than what we did.”

Despite Forget’s optimism, there is also a lot of caution given recent events that have happened in the sport. The Adria Tour, which was founded by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, was cancelled after an outbreak of the virus among players. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric all tested positive, as well as some coaching staff. The event was criticised for a lack of social distancing with players attending parties, however it all took place in accordance with local government rules. Meanwhile, at the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Atalanta Frances Tiafoe withdrew due to testing positive for the virus, but the event continued.

“Maybe some people were overconfident there,” Forget commented on the Adria Tour.
“Luckily no one got hurt really bad but even a few cases is too much and we want to avoid that as much as we can.
“We want to reassure everyone that having people getting ill will be terrible for us. Let’s be really careful, really cautious.”

At present, the French Tennis Federation plans to allow up to 20,000 people to attend the French Open daily with 10,000 on the final day. Equating to roughly 60% of its maximum capacity which is a figure based on ‘health-related information and the projected guidelines.’ Those attending will be required to wear masks whilst walking around the venue but not when sitting courtside.

“We all see soccer on television, it’s wonderful but something is missing without the crowds,” Forget said about the importance of a crowd.
“We are working closely with the administration, the government, to make sure we can provide some crowd while still following very strict security measures.”

The French Open is set to get underway on September 27th. Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal are the defending champions.

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Grand Slam

Australian Open Chief Confident Event Will Take Place In January Amid COVID-19 Jump In Region

Craig Tiley has addressed concerns about the Grand Slam following a new outbreak in Victoria.

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The tournament director of the Australian Open has insisted that plans for next year’s tournament are on track despite a spike in COVID-19 cases around Melbourne.

 

Craig Tiley has stated that the Grand Slam will only take place in the city and there are no backup plans to potentially relocate the event in a worst case scenario. The Australian Open is held annually at Melbourne Park and this year attracted a record attendance of 812,174 people. Although there are concerns about the threat posed by COVID-19 with the Victoria State Government reporting another 66 cases of the virus on Friday. Making it the 17th day the daily infection rate has been in double digits. It is possible that the number could be higher with health minister Jenny Mikakos confirming around 10,000 people have refused to be tested with some claiming the virus to be a ‘conspiracy theory.’

According to ABC News Tiley and his team are planning for six scenarios concerning the Australian Open taking place, including the possibility of holding it behind closed doors. Although he is optimistic that the event and others also set to take place next January will go ahead as planned.

“Nothing has changed for us in terms of our planning,” Tiley told AAP.
“The environment around us has changed, and will continue to change, as we’ve seen with the current spike in Victoria.
“We’re optimistic the additional measures currently in place will be successful — and restrictions will continue to be eased over the coming months.”

The Tournament director has also confirmed that there will be little flexibility concerning the staging of next year’s event. Saying it will only take place in Melbourne and during January if it goes ahead. Although he is keeping a close eye on the two Grand Slams that are set to take place later this season.

“The US Open and the French Open are exploring mandatory testing, varying levels of quarantine and limiting entourages,” he said.
“Of course we are looking at all these options, and more, as part of our scenario planning.
“It’s difficult to predict exactly what will need to be in place as guidelines and protocols are changing week by week, and sometimes even day by day.”

This year’s US Open is set to get underway on August 31st, but will be held behind closed doors for the first time. Meanwhile the French Open, which starts only weeks after the New York major, plans to allow up to 20,000 fans to attend daily. Working out to be roughly 60% of its maximum capacity.

The last time the Australian Open didn’t take place was in 1986 due to a change in its hosting date from December to January. Founded in 1905, it is the youngest out of the four grand slam tournaments.

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Grand Slam

Patrick Mouratoglou Cast Doubt On US Open Taking Place As Covid-19 Cases Soar

One top health expert has warned American lawmakers that the country could reach 100,000 cases of the virus per day.

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The coach of Serena Williams has said he is unsure ‘if it is a good move’ for the US Open to go ahead amid the ongoing COVID-19 crises.

 

Patrick Mouratoglou told Sky Sports that he believes it is ‘a bit crazy’ for the event to be going ahead as planned. This year’s Grand Slam in New York is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and will be implementing strict measures to deal with the threat of COVID-19. Including regular testing and temperature checks. Players will also be kept essentially in a ‘bubble’ throughout and limited to where they can go. All tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the Pandemic but the Tour is set to resume in August.

”With what’s happening at the moment in the US, with the number of cases of COVID-19 going higher and higher every day, I don’t think how that can happen,” Mouratoglou told Sky Sports.
“From outside, it looks a bit crazy to try to make it happen. So, I don’t know if it’s a good move.
“I wouldn’t say that if the situation was more stable like it is in Europe, then it’s a different story. But in the US and especially in New York and around New York is… I mean, the number of cases is increasing incredibly. So, I don’t know how reasonable that is to try to make it happen. And I don’t know if last minute the governor of New York will decide to cancel it because of course health first.”

Recently Dr Anthony Fauci, who is a top disease expert, told the United States Senate that he would not be surprised if the country soars to 100,000 cases of the Coronavirus each day. His warning comes as Reuters News Agency reports that there was a rise of more than 47,000 cases on Tuesday. The biggest jump in daily cases since the pandemic started.

As a result of the rise, New York has said that people travelling from 16 different states in America are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the city. According to USA Today this ruling applies to roughly 48% of the entire American population. Due to the uncertain situation, Mouratoglou believes it is still possible the US Open could get cancelled nearer the time.

“I think it’s completely possible that two weeks before he [Andrew Cuomo] decides I mean, considering the situation, this is not reasonable to bring people from all over the world there, mix them together and potentially put them in touch with one of the countries that has the most cases at the moment.” He said.

Some players are yet to clarify their plans for the Grand Slam and if they will be playing. Rafael Nadal, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep are some of those who have previously expressed their concerns. However, former champion and world No.1 Andy Murray says is it a ‘positive’ move for the event to be going ahead as well as the French Open which will follow shortly after.

“Getting the US Open and the French Open played this year is a good thing, I think. It’s positive, I just don’t like the way the French Open went about scheduling their event,” Murray told the BBC. “But we’re going to have to go back to playing at some stage. The most important thing is that the events are safe.”

The US Open is set to get underway on August 31st.

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