September 25, 2022

WIMBLEDON, England — Matteo Berrettini, last year’s Wimbledon runner-up, dropped out of the grass-court Grand Slam tournament hours before he was due to play his first-round match on Tuesday, saying he tested positive at the COVID-19.

The All England Club announced Berrettini’s withdrawal, and he opened up about it on Instagram, saying he was ‘heartbroken’ and had been self-isolating ‘for the past few days’ after experiencing flu-like symptoms .

He is the second top player to pull out of the draw in the first two days due to illness caused by the coronavirus, joining 2014 US Open champion and 2017 Wimbledon runner-up Marin Cilic as head of 14th series. The table is now without five of the top 11 in the ATP rankings: No. 1 Daniil Medvedev (Russian ban), No. 2 Alexander Zverev (ankle surgery), No. 8 Andrey Rublev (Russian ban) , number 10. Hubert Hurkacz (lost Monday) and No. 11 Berrettini.

A spokesman for the All England Club did not respond to a question about the level of concern over COVID-19 at the event, but said in an email that organizers were working with the health agency British public and local authorities.

“We have maintained enhanced hand cleaning and disinfection operations and are offering full medical support to anyone feeling unwell. We are following UK guidelines regarding the assessment and isolation of any potential infectious disease,” says the press release. “Our medical team for players also continues to wear face masks for any consultations.”

After being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, then implementing a bubble-like environment and restricting attendance in 2021 to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Wimbledon is back to normal in every way , with no obligation to wear a mask, full crowds and its famous queue back in action.

“Although the symptoms are not serious, I have decided it is important to have another test this morning to protect the health and safety of my fellow competitors and everyone else involved in the tournament,” he said. Berrettini wrote in his post, which included a black and white. white photo of him hitting a serve at Wimbledon.

“I have no words to describe the extreme disappointment I feel,” he said. “The dream is over for this year, but I will come back stronger.”

The eighth-seeded Italian player spent some time training with Rafael Nadal on center court last week and also came across Novak Djokovic there.

Berrettini was scheduled to face 44th-placed Cristian Garin in the first round on Tuesday. Berrettini was replaced on the pitch by Elias Ymer, who lost in qualifying but will now face Garin.

Berrettini was seen as a title contender for Wimbledon – due to his run last year to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club before losing to Djokovic and due to his recent form on grass.

“I mean, he’s definitely [one of the] the two, three best players in the world on grass in the last three years. I mean, his results reflect that,” Djokovic said of Berrettini on Monday. “It’s probably his favorite surface. For his game, it is the most suitable surface. So there are a lot of expectations on his part for him to go far in this tournament.”

Berrettini, a 26-year-old who relies on big serves and big forehands, won two tune-up tournaments this month, going 9-0 in Stuttgart, Germany, and Queen’s Club in London.

This is how he returned to action after being sidelined since March due to surgery on his right hand.

In all, since the start of 2019, he is 32-3 on grass. Two of those three losses have come against six-time Wimbledon winner Djokovic and eight-time champion Roger Federer.

Two other singles players left the tournament on Tuesday due to injuries: Danka Kovinic (lower back) and Wang Xiyu (left thigh). Kovinic has been replaced on the pitch by Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, who takes on Sonay Kartal.

Three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov has also withdrawn from his Wimbledon opening round match against American opponent Steve Johnson after undergoing a medical evaluation of his leg.

The 18th-seeded Dimitrov won the first set 6-4 and trailed 5-2 in the second when he stopped playing on the No. 2 court.

Dimitrov, who hails from Bulgaria, reached the All England Club’s last four in 2014, aged 23.