Australian Open Chief Defends ‘Rigorous’ COVID-19 Policy Despite Player Concerns - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Chief Defends ‘Rigorous’ COVID-19 Policy Despite Player Concerns

Is the number of positive cases at Melbourne Park higher than what is being reported?

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The head of the Australian Open has shrugged off concerns that players could potentially be participating with COVID-19 on the same day Garbine Muguruza said testing at the event was optional.

 

Craig Tiley has insisted that his tournament’s process is stricter than what players face during their ‘week in week out travels.’ Under regulations, players travelling to Australia must take a test before departure and upon arrival. They then have further tests on day five and day seven.

“We are working closely with the men’s and the women’s tour’s and came up with a set of protocols that are more rigorous than their week in week out travels,” Tiley told Channel Nine.
“There is also mandatory symptomatic testing and every player is provided each day with a rapid antigen kick they can pick up either at the hotel or here onsite (at the Australian Open). That is really the program we have had going. So far it has worked well and been successful.” He added.

Concerns over the system started last week during the qualifying tournament when Bernard Tomic said he believed he had the virus during his match and lamented the testing protocols. He tested positive shortly after. Then on Wednesday Ugo Humbert tested positive for the virus following his first round match. The Frenchman only discovered his result as part of the standard protocols those wishing to leave Australia have to follow.

After his second round win over John Millman, Alexander Zverev told reporters that he believes the number of positive cases at the event is higher than what figures show due to a lack in testing. He said he has entered into a ‘personal bubble’ to avoid potentially being infected as he seeks his first Grand Slam title.

I did not know that he (Humbert) had Covid,” said Zverev. ”This year in Australia there’s a lot more cases than last year.
“We are allowed to go outside to eat, we are allowed to do what we want, so it is natural that more people get Covid.
“My brother when he arrived had Covid, he was in quarantine in Sydney. He does not have it any more.
“I think a few players have it now. We are not getting tested. If we were getting tested I think there would be more positives than there are now.”

Garbine Muguruza, who lost in the second round on Thursday, said she tests herself twice a day but is under no obligation to do so. The two-time Grand Slam champion also confirmed that she doesn’t have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival at Melbourne Park.

On the other hand, Stefanos Tsitsipas has defended the testing procedures in Melbourne and said the responsibility lies with the players, not the tournament.

“It’s the responsibility of each and every athlete to test themselves regularly to see whether or not they are positive, which has been the case for me,” he said.
“I have been trying to get a few antigen tests and rapid tests to see whether or not I’m positive, which is a responsibility that I have, it’s something that I have to do in order to see if I’m 100%.”

Tiley’s defence of the programme comes amid growing scrutiny over his handling of the tournament following the controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic. The world No.1 claims he was told by Tennis Australia that he could enter the country unvaccinated as he recently caught the virus before officials said that wasn’t a valid reason. It has since been claimed that the governing body was funding Djokovic’s travel and legal expenses but that has been denied. Meanwhile, Tiley has stated that he will not be stepping down from his current position.

I am very focused today on delivering a great event. I am proud of being able to stand up here and you can see what is behind us. I am proud of what the team has done and what we have delivered so far.” He stated.

This year’s Australian Open requires all players and those working at the tournament to be fully vaccinated unless they are medically exempt.

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‘Time To Accept The Situation And Fight’ – Rafael Nadal Targets French Open Despite Foot Concern

After recently returning to the Tour following a rib injury, a flare up of another issue threatens to spoil Nadal’s Paris dreams.

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Image via Roberto Dell’Olivo

Just over a week before the start of the French Open Rafael Nadal once again finds himself nursing a long-term condition that sidelined him from the Tour for months last year.

 

The 21-time Grand Slam champion looked to be in visible discomfort during parts of his clash with Denis Shapovalov in the third round of the Italian Masters on Thursday. After clinching the opening set, Nadal fell 1-6, 7-5, 6-2, to the Canadian who registered his first-ever win over a top 10 player on clay and his 10th overall. He now faces a race against time to be ready for the French Open which he has won a record 13 times.

“I am not injured. I am a player living with an injury. That’s it, it is nothing new. It’s something that is there,” Nadal told reporters in Rome.

35-year-old Nadal suffers from Mueller-Weiss syndrome, which is a degenerative disease that causes a deformity of one of the bones in the central part of the foot. Due to the condition last year he was only able to play in one tournament over a six-month period. In September that year he underwent treatment on his foot but not surgery.

“My day-by-day is difficult, honestly. Even like this, I am trying hard. Of course, it’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes,” the former world No.1 said of his condition. “It can be frustrating that a lot of days I can’t practice the proper way.”

The setback occurred during what was only Nadal’s second tournament since returning to action following a rib injury. At last week’s Madrid Open he reached the quarter-finals before losing to compatriot Carlos Alcaraz. Nadal’s recent misfortunes follow what has been a blistering start to the season for him. He started 2022 by winning 20 matches in a row before losing to Taylor Fritz in Indian Wells. His win-loss for the season currently stands at 23-3 with three titles won, including the Australian Open.

During his visit to Roland Garros this year Nadal will be joined by his doctor who will be keeping a close eye on his foot. As to how much the condition could hinder his campaign in the French capital, the Spaniard admits that he doesn’t know due to its unpredictability.

First thing that I need to do is to not have pain to practice, that’s it. And the negative thing is today it’s not possible for me to play. But maybe in two days things will be better, that’s the thing that I have with my foot,” he explained.

Nadal is the most successful player in French Open history with a total of 105 main draw wins. In fact, the only players to have ever beaten him at the tournament are Novak Djokovic twice and Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

“It’s time to accept the situation and fight. That’s it. Honestly, I can’t say anything more now,” Nadal continued.
“I still have a goal (to be ready for the French Open) in one week and a couple of days. I’m going to keep dreaming about that goal.”

Nadal has played just five matches on clay this season heading into the French Open.

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Players Face Sanctions If They Make Pro-Putin Statements At French Open, Warns Mauresmo

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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.

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REPORT: ATP Player Representatives Backs Move To Strip Wimbledon Of Ranking Points Over Ban

It is understood that emergency meetings are taking place as momentum gathers to take an unprecedented move against the grass-court major.

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Aerial view across the grounds as spectators watch the big screen on the outside of No.1 Court in the sunshine at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 7 Monday 05/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Joe Toth

This year’s Wimbledon Championships could be entering into chaos after multiple reports suggest that there is growing support for the ATP to take a hardline approach to the tournament over their decision to ban Russian and Belarussian players.

 

According to multiple British media sources, the ATP Tour player representatives have endorsed the unprecedented move to remove all ranking points from the Grand Slam, as well as other events taking place in Britain this year. Something which has never happened in the Open Era. Supporters of the approach argue that it would create a fairer system with the players who are not allowed to participate.

Last month The All England Club and the British Lawn Tennis Association became the first organizations in the sport to ban Russian and Belarussian players over the war in Ukraine. Until then, it was agreed by tennis’ seven governing bodies that those players will be allowed to play on the Tour but only as neutral athletes and their federations have been suspended from team events. However, Wimbledon said their stance was made following recommendations from the British government, as well as taking into account other factors.

“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.” AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt recently told reporters.

Organizers did consider a proposal to let players participate but only if they signed a declaration condemning the actions of their governments but decided against doing so over safety concerns. Russia currently has strict laws in places concerning the war and thousands of people have been arrested for taking part in anti-war protests.

The bold move has prompted criticism from many leading names on the Tour. Former Wimbledon champions Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have all previously voiced their opposition.

“I think it’s very unfair (on) my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues. It’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war,” said Nadal.

Emergency talks are now set to take place amid the threat of removing points from Wimbledon. Each of the four Grand Slam tournaments has the biggest number of ranking points on offer on the Tour with the singles winner being awarded 2000 points. Whilst Wimbledon is independent from the Tour, it is the ATP who has control over the allocation of ranking points.

It is also unclear as to what action the women’s WTA Tour will take and if they will follow the same rumoured approach as the ATP. Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the WTA, has previously warned that his governing body would make ‘strong reaction’ but didn’t elaborate on what that might be. According to The Daily Mail, the ATP is trying to work alongside the women’s Tour in some capacity regarding this matter.

It is unclear as to when a final decision will be made.

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