The tournament director of the US Open has confirmed that a group of players described as ‘close contacts’ of Benoit Paire in recent days will not be withdrawn from the tournament following his positive COVID-19 test.
On Sunday the Frenchman became the first player within the New York bubble to have tested positive for the virus and was automatically moved into isolation. It has been reported that Paire had been practicing with Daniil Medvedev in recent days and was playing card games with other players. Most of whom have not been publicly named. Although the USTA have decided to allow those players to continue playing in the tournament.
The group of individuals has since signed a new waiver and will be limited as to which areas within the bubble they can attend as part of the conditions to keep them playing. The USTA hasn’t released a statement concerning the matter but tournament director Stacey Allaster said the decision is based on ‘medical science and all of those facts.’
“Contact tracing has been executed, decisions have been made and we’re continuing on to have those individuals in the competition based on the medical science and all of those facts,” she told The Tennis Channel on Monday.
There are still a few unanswered questions about the move and the USTA now find themselves facing allegations of double standards. Just over a week ago two South American players were removed from the Western and Southern Open after their coach tested positive. It is unclear as to why the US Open group of players have been allowed to continue playing or if there has been any change to protocol over the past week.
Édouard Roger-Vasselin is one of the players who was initially told to isolate in his room after Paire’s positive test. Speaking to L’Equipe newspaper, he says he is now living ‘in a bubble of a bubble’’ after signing the new waiver. Conditions include eating alone in his room, not being allowed to use the lift and he will no longer have access to the cloakroom.
“We can train normally with whoever we want, but today it will be I think with others (contact cases). And my doubles partner (Jürgen Melzer), I can only see him on the court or during the match. Not otherwise … ” He said.
Alex de Minaur, who is the 21st seed in the men’s draw, is one the first players to publicly comment on the ongoing situation. In a Facebook Live interview with The Australian, he says he is trying to stay in his room as much as possible amid the potential risk of an outbreak.
“Me and my team are just trying to stay in our rooms as much as we can,” de Minaur commented.
“We don’t really want to have too much interaction just in case, whatever happens, because that could really mean we are out of the tournament.”
UbiTennis has contacted the USTA for clarity on the matter and are awaiting a response.
Players Face Sanctions If They Make Pro-Putin Statements At French Open, Warns Mauresmo
The tournament director of the French Open admits there is ‘no fair decision’ regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian players in the Grand Slam.
Amelie Mauresmo, who is a former WTA No.1 player herself, confirmed that players from those countries will be allowed to play during an interview with French radio. Although they will only be allowed to play under a neutral status in line with the rules which have been adopted by other governing bodies of the sport. The action has been taken in response to Russia’s military assault on the Ukraine which began on February 24th. Belarus is suspected of supporting Russia in the conflict which has already killed thousands of people.
The stance of officials in Paris is a stark contrast to that of Wimbledon who has controversially implemented a ban on those players, as well as the LTA. Making it the first time The All England Club has excluded players due to their nationality since the World War Two Era when German and Japanese players weren’t allowed to participate. The ATP Tour is reportedly considering removing the allocation of points to the event in response to the ban.
Speaking about the issue, Mauresmo confirmed that action could be taken against any player who decides to make pro-Putin statements during the tournament. Although she didn’t elaborate on what penalties could be used if such a situation occurs.
“We have thought a lot, and I have the impression that there is no fair decision, one way or the other,” said Mauresmo. “We are in line with what European sports ministers have decided, we do not welcome teams but individual athletes. Obviously if an athlete speaks in the press for example and supports Vladimir Putin, sanctions will be taken. “
Providing an update on the upcoming tournament, Mauresmo says she is confident that this year’s tournament will have an almost full attendance. Confirming that “tickets are sold at more than 90-95%” of its capacity in what she hails as a ‘real success’ for the tournament. Last year’s edition took place with a restricted capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s French Open will begin on May 22nd. Novak Djokovic and Barbora Krejcikova are the defending champions.
French Open Prize Money Pool Up By Nearly 7% From 2019 But Singles Champions Will Win Less
More then 40 million euros will be up for grabs during this year’s tournament.
The prize money pool for this year’s French Open will be increased by around 6.8% compared to 2019 which was the last time the event was held before the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 43.6 million euros (about $46 million) will be distributed by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) throughout the tournament with the most noticeable increase concerning first round matches. Those participating in the first round will receive 62,000 euros which is a 35% increase compared to 2019 and a 3% increase on what was offered last year.
Another substantial rise concerns the qualifying tournaments with the money pot being 66% higher than 2019 and 30% more than 2021. The amounts on offer in the three-round qualifying tournament are €14,000, €20,000 and €31,000.
“The increase in prize money for the first round of the singles main draws and the qualifying competitions is designed to help the players who have suffered the most as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the FFT outlined in a statement.
This year’s singles champions will each take home €2.2M which is just slightly down on the tally of €2.3M that was offered back in 2019. On the other hand it is an increase of €700,000 compared to last year when the tournament was operating under various restrictions due to the pandemic.
This year’s French Open main draw will get underway on May 22nd. Novak Djokovic and Barbora Krejčíková are the defending champions.
2022 French Open Prize money breakdown
|ROUND||PRIZE MONEY (€)|
|Qualifying – R3||31,000|
|Qualifying – R2||20,000|
|Qualifying – R1||14,000|
Decision By Wimbledon And LTA To Ban Players Over Ukraine War Backed By Nordic Federations
Britain’s controversial move has split opinion in the sport but a group of four countries have endorsed the ban due to ‘the hostility of the Russian and Belarusian states.’
After recent days of criticism towards British officials over their decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from tournaments this year, the first tennis federations have publicly expressed their support.
During their spring press conference on Wednesday, Wimbledon chiefs said they have ‘no viable option’ but to issue the ban in order to prevent the possibility of “being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime”. Russia launched a military attack on Ukraine on February 24th and it is highly suspected that Belarus is supporting them. According to the UN at least 2,729 civilians have been killed and another 3111 injured but the figures are feared to be higher.
The move has split opinion in the sport with both the ATP and WTA both criticizing the decision. Earlier this year the sport’s seven governing bodies issued a statement saying that players from the two countries will still be allowed to participate in tournaments but only as neutral players. Steve Simon, who is the head of the WTA, has hinted that there will be a ‘strong reaction’ from his organization. It is understood that both the ATP and WTA will meet in the coming days during the Madrid Open. In the most extreme scenario, they could decide to revoke their licenses to LTA events or remove their ability to award ranking points.
“We recognize that whatever decision we took, we’ll be setting a precedent,” said Wimbledon CEO Sally Bolton. “We made our judgment in the context of the scale of the response to an international war, the consequences of which reach far wider than the sport of tennis. We appreciate that this is an immensely difficult decision on which people have different views, which we respect and we understand, and we are deeply regretful of the impact that this will have on every single player who is affected.”
Ian Hewitt, who is chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, says the ban was influenced by guidance given by the British government on the matter.
“We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible in the circumstances and that, within the framework of the government’s position, there is no viable alternative to the decision we have taken in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.” He said.
It remains to be seen if other countries will take similar actions in the future. It is understood that the Italian government is currently considering whether to allow Russian and Belarusian players to participate at the upcoming Internazionali BNL d’Italia. A Masters 1000 event for the men and WTA 1000 for the women.
Meanwhile, the tennis federations of four nordic countries have issued a joint-statement in support of the ban by Wimbledon and the LTA. Officials from Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway have backed the move. The only country from the region not to co-sign is Denmark but it is unclear as to why.
“We, the undersigned federations, support the position the LTA and AELTC have taken regarding Russian and Belarusian players competing in events in Great Britain. In these exceptional times, tennis must do all it can to stand with the people of Ukraine against the hostility of the Russian and Belarusian states.” The statement reads.
Besides the statement issued from the four countries, no other tennis federations are yet to formally comment on the matter. Furthermore, there has been no statement issued by the International Tennis Federation.
The ban applies to all ATP and WTA events set to take place in Britain this year, as well as Wimbledon.
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