WIMBLEDON, England — Matteo Berrettini, a finalist at Wimbledon last yr, withdrew from this yr’s tournament on Tuesday after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Berrettini’s announcement of his withdrawal got here only about two hours before he was to take to the court for his first-round match against Cristian Garin and was the newest blow to a Grand Slam tournament that was already shorter than usual on stars and has been stripped of rating points for this edition by the lads’s and ladies’s tours.
Berrettini, who’s undefeated on grass courts this season and seeded No. 8 at Wimbledon, was considered one of the leading contenders for the lads’s singles title. His withdrawal got here in the future after one other player, Marin Cilic, the No. 14 seed from Croatia and a 2017 Wimbledon finalist, also withdrew after testing positive.
The twin withdrawal raised the prospect of an outbreak among the many player group at Wimbledon, which is already missing several stars due to injury and the tournament’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players.
Berrettini and Cilic have been involved in recent weeks with many players. Each played on the grass-court tournament in Queen’s Club in London that ended on June 19, with Berrettini winning the singles title and Cilic reaching the semifinals.
Each practiced at Wimbledon last week and used the locker room reserved for seeded players. Berrettini trained on Centre Court on Thursday with Rafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed. Cilic trained on Centre Court with Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 seed.
Djokovic, who has said that he stays unvaccinated for the coronavirus, won his first-round match on Monday, defeating Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea in 4 sets. Djokovic served particularly well but was removed from his sharpest in other areas, looking low on energy at one stage and dousing himself with water on a changeover. On Tuesday, Nadal was scheduled to play at Wimbledon for the primary time since 2019, facing Francisco Cerundolo in the primary round on Centre Court.
Wimbledon was canceled in 2020 due to pandemic and instituted strict restrictions last yr, following British government guidelines. Coronavirus testing was required for players, support team members and tournament officials and employees. But with the loosening of presidency mandates this yr, no testing is currently required at Wimbledon.
In an announcement, the All England Club said that its policy is “consistent with agreed practice across the entire U.K.”
The club said some health and safety measures were still in place. “We’ve maintained enhanced cleansing and hand sanitizing operations and offer full medical support for anyone feeling unwell,” the statement said.
No masks are required on the tournament, however the player medical team is continuous to wear them for any consultations, and the club emphasized that Wimbledon’s health and safety policies were repeatedly under review and might be updated.
However the tournament clearly has an issue, which could get greater.
In all, five of the highest 20 men were unable to play at Wimbledon due to bans, injuries or illness. No. 1 Daniil Medvedev of Russia was blocked from competing after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Wimbledon’s decision to bar Russians and their allies from Belarus led to the tours retaliating by removing rating points from the tournament.
No. 2 ranked Alexander Zverev is out for an prolonged period after tearing ligaments in his right ankle on the French Open earlier this month.
There was also an early upset on Monday when Hubert Hurkacz, the No. 7 seed and a powerful contender, was beaten in five sets in the primary round by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Berrettini, a strapping 6-foot-6 Italian, missed several months of motion earlier this season due to surgery on his right hand, his primary playing hand. But he returned for the grass-court season earlier this month and won consecutive titles in Stuttgart and at Queen’s Club.
“I’m heartbroken,” Berrettini said in a post on his Instagram account announcing his withdrawal. “I actually have had flu symptoms and been isolating the previous couple of days. Despite symptoms not being severe, I made a decision it was vital to take one other test this morning to guard the health and safety of my fellow competitors and everybody else involved within the tournament.”
Berrettini and Cilic, like most of the leading players, were staying in private accommodations in Wimbledon fairly than in considered one of the player hotels in central London. Berrettini had not been on site on the All England Club since Saturday and now, despite his thunderous serve and forehand, may have to attend until next yr.
“I haven’t any words to explain the intense disappointment I feel,” he said. “The dream is over for this yr, but I will likely be back stronger.”
Cilic, 33, also has been in resurgent form, overwhelming Medvedev within the fourth round of the French Open on his option to the semifinals. Along with his long reach, huge serve and flat baseline power, he’s dangerous on grass and was, like Berrettini, considered one of the players to observe closely in the underside half of the lads’s draw.
Cilic could have faced Nadal within the fourth round; Berrettini could have faced him within the semifinals. But now Nadal’s path, if he stays healthy, looks quite a bit less daunting.