Two players in the US Open bubble have been quarantined after they came in contact with a non playing staff who tested positive for Covid-19 in New York. The duo have also been removed from the players list of the Western and Southern Open -- relocated to New York this year to serve as an opener for the US Open.
On August 19, tournament officials announced that a non playing staff tested positive for the virus and has been traced in ‘close and prolonged contact, with two players. While they declined to reveal the names of the players, both Argentina’s Guido Pella and Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien took to Instagram to confirm that they were the ones involved.
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Pella, ranked 35th in the world, confirmed he was put into quarantine after his personal trainer Juan Manuel Galvan tested positive for Covid-19.
“Juan Manuel Galvan tested positive two days ago (Monday),” Pella said, further stating that his coach, Jose Acasuso, had also been in close contact with Galvan.
“Our two tests, Jose’s and mine, came back negative, we don’t feel anything. But the organisers took me out of the tournament ... Now protocol dictates that I be tested every two days. There’s no other option and hopefully these two weeks will go by quickly and I can be present at the US Open,” he said.
The tournament organisers confirmed that neither of the two players have shown any symptoms of the virus. However, as per protocol, they have been excluded from the tournament and sent into quarantine after consulting the US open medical team and the New York City Department of Health.
The duo’s positive tests come at a time when the US Tennis Association (USTA) is grappling with losing several big names for their Grand Slam this year -- many of whom have cited health concerns as a reason to not travel to New York.
Earlier this week, World No 2, Simona Halep, pulled out of the U.S. Open tournament citing exceptional circumstances as a reason for doing so. "I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe," said Halep in a statement posted on Twitter. She won the Prague Open on Sunday, and is set to play the clay court circuit (including the French Open) across Europe later this year.
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Halep was the latest in a long list of top women players who have opted out of the American Grand Slam. Of the top eight ranked women in the WTA, six will not participate in the event.
Women’s World Number 1 Ashleigh Barty, defending US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, multiple time US Open winners Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are among the big names to have pulled out from the tournament.
As much as it dilutes the field, it also opens up the possibility of other more interesting narratives to complete themselves this year. The weakened women’s draw puts Serena Williams in prime position to win her record 24th Grand Slam this year. Despite Williams’ own pedigree and the fact that several contenders will be absent, the fact is that she will face a stiff challenge to record a new history.
Former US Open and Australian Open champions Naomi Osaka has travelled to New York and is in the bubble right now and will rightfully be among the favourites to win the title. Sofia Kenin, the champion of the only Grand Slam played this year, is another one to keep an eye on. It is also important to remember that Williams hasn’t won a Grand Slam since her victory at the Australian Open in 2017 and hasn’t won the US Open in six years (despite reaching the final twice in the last two years).
On the men’s side Novak Djokovic the clear favourite is set to take part.
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