Organisers of the All-American Cup in Atlanta have suffered a huge blow after it was confirmed that one player has tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.
Frances Tiafoe has confirmed that he has contracted the virus following a test done late last night. Making it the first case of COVID-19 among players at a tournament outside of Europe. The announcement comes after he withdrew from the event with what was first assumed to be injury-related. Tiafoe required a medical timeout during the second set of his match against Sam Querrey.
“Unfortunately, I tested positive late Friday for Covid-19 and have to withdraw from the All-American Team Cup special event in Atlanta this weekend,” the world No.81 said in a statement.
“Over the past two months, I have been training in Florida and tested negative as recently as a week ago before travelling to Atlanta. I am scheduled to have a second test early next week, but have already begun the quarantine protocol as advised by the medical staff here in Atlanta. While I’ve been so excited to get back out there, the health and safety of everyone continues to be a top priority.”
Reports of a COVID-19 case at the event started to circulate on Saturday morning when British player Tara Moore tweeted that she had heard ‘from a couple of players’ that somebody had tested positive in Atlanta. Moore is a member of the newly formed ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel.
In a statement issued by the organisers of the All-American Cup, they confirmed that Tiafoe was showing symptoms of the virus following his match before later testing positive. Although they didn’t specify as to what his symptoms are. The tournament will still continue with Tiafoe being replaced in the draw by Christopher Eubanks.
“Frances Tiafoe has tested positive for the coronavirus. Like all the players, Tiafoe was tested prior to or upon arrival in Atlanta and has passed daily temperature tests. Following his match, he was showing symptoms and was retested and tested positive,” tournament director Eddie Gonzalez said in a statement.
“Tiafoe has left the event site and will not participate in the remainder of the event. Upon learning this information, we immediately began deep cleaning and sanitizing the event site, and enacted protocols in place for contact tracing and alerting individuals who may have been exposed. The health and safety of our event participants, staff and attendees are a top priority, and we will continue to diligently enforce all guidelines from local health officials.”
Despite the assurances, said by Gonzalez, questions remain. Especially in regards to Tiafoe, who said during his post-match interview on Friday that he hadn’t been feeling well in recent days but still decided to continue playing in the tournament.
Probably explains why Tiafoe was struggling so much in the heat as he beat Querrey yesterday: “I haven’t been feeling the best the last couple of days.” pic.twitter.com/u2K1vFbjO8
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) July 4, 2020
A rise in cases
The All-American Cup is a team tournament which features the eight highest ranked American players on the ATP Tour. Held at Life Time Fitness in Peachtree Corners, 450 people are allowed to attend the event daily. Which equates to roughly 30% of the stadium’s maximum capacity.
There has recently been concerns about opening the event up to the public due to the rise in cases in the region. Georgia, which is the state Atlanta is in, has seen the number of new cases increase by more than 50% over the past week based on information obtained by the John Hopkins University. Meanwhile, 1,400 Georgia healthcare workers have signed a petition sent to the state’s governor asking for stricter measures to be implemented to help stop the spread.
“I just think it’s an unnecessary risk right now,” world No.225 Noah Rubin told Front Row Sports about the event earlier this week. “If you weigh the pros and cons, and when I do it quickly in my head, it doesn’t add up. What are we gaining from taking this risk right now? Numbers [of COVID-19 cases] are going in the wrong direction. You have Georgia being one of those states that’s highly affected by a spike. It just doesn’t really make sense when I put it all together.”
John Isner, who is the country’s highest ranked player, has previously hit back at concerns over the Atlanta event. Saying to a series of Twitter users ‘You coronabros can stay in your basement all you want. I choose to live my life and play/promote the sport I love in a safe manner.” In a separate tweet Isner said that he was not downplaying the seriousness of the virus. Although he did like one tweet which said ‘the virus is much less lethal than the first models predicted.’
Isner was one of three players on Team Stripes to score wins on the first day of the tournament along with Tennys Sandgren and Steve Johnson. As for Team Stars, their only victory was thanks to Tiafoe, who downed Sam Querrey in straight sets.
Tiefoe is the latest top player to have tested positive as the sport nears it return to competitive tennis. Recently the Adria Tour was scrapped following an outbreak during the Zadar leg in which Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Novak Djokovic among others got infected. Meanwhile, at the Eastern European Championships two players tested positive just over a week ago.
Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win
Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.
“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”
The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.
Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.
This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.
Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells
The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…
Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.
It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.
Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.
” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.
Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.
In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.
Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
Stefanos Tsitsipas Sidesteps Question Over Vaccination Status
The Greek also jokes that he will be having less bathroom breaks in Indian Wells due to one particular reason.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has declined to confirm if he has received a COVID-19 vaccination despite previously saying he planned to do so later this year.
The world No.3 was questioned about the vaccination during his pre-tournament press conference at Indian Wells on Wednesday. Earlier this year Tsitsipas came under fire after saying he doesn’t see a reason why somebody his age needs to be vaccinated and expressed concerns over the potential side effects. He also added that young people catching COVID-19 is a good thing as it helps build up their immunity. Prompting criticism from various people, including a spokesperson for the Greek government.
However, in recent weeks Tsitsipas has changed his stance on the issue and recently told Antenna TV that he will have his first dose by the end of this year. When asked by a reporter in Indian Wells if he has had it yet, the French Open finalist declined to answer.
“I’m sorry but I’m not able to provide any of my medical records,” he said.
Player vaccination rates in tennis are becoming a growing issue amid reports that the Australian Open may only allow fully vaccinated players to participate due to a health mandate which has been implemented by the local government. There is yet to be a formal announcement by Tennis Australia regarding their entry requirements. However, The Age newspaper reports that there is a ‘strong likelihood’ that only vaccinated players will be allowed entry by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
Tsitsipas’ immediate focus is on this week’s BNP Paribas Open where he is the second seed behind Daniil Medvedev. Speaking about the conditions, the 23-year-old joked it was ‘very dry’ and therefore he will be having less bathroom breaks during matches. Referring to the recent criticism he has received from some of his peers over the timing of breaks he takes.
“It’s very dry here,” Tsitsipas said.
“That is good for me because I sweat less, which makes for less bathroom breaks, which makes for less complaints. So a very good sign so far,” he added with a smile.
The hope for Tsitsipas is that he will be able to build on his recent experience at the Laver Cup where he helped Europe secure their fourth consecutive title. The event provides players with the opportunity to work alongside each other in a team format. Something Tsitsipas relished but he is ready to get back to singles duty.
“I think team competitions are necessary for our sport and we don’t get to be united a lot,” he said. “We always kind of focus on ourselves and our things and environment and that is what you usually see on Tour. Players doing their own thing. Not much socialising.
“At the Laver Cup, we all get to have dinners together and all get to hang out with each other. Of course, though, we all have our competitiveness and if we get stuck around we might share too much with one another, that is the mentality behind it.”
Tsitsipas is yet to win a main draw match in Indian Wells. He will start his 2021 bid against either qualifier Roberto Marcora or Spain’s Pedro Martinez.
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