WIMBLEDON – Matteo Berrettinilast year’s second place at Wimbledondropped out of the grass court Grand Slam tournament a few hours before he was to play his first round match on Tuesday, saying he tested positive for COVID-19.
The All England Club announced Berrettini’s withdrawal, and he written about it on Instagramand said he was “crushed” and has isolated himself “the last few days” after experiencing flu-like symptoms.
He is the second high-profile player to withdraw from the draw within the first two days due to coronavirus-induced illness, joining the 2014 US Open champion and 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic.
After being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, then creating a bubble environment and limiting attendance in 2021 to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Wimbledon has in every way returned to normal with no requirement for mask wearing, full crowds and the famous Queue back in action.
“Despite the fact that the symptoms were not severe, I decided that it was important to take another test this morning to protect the health and safety of my fellow competitors and everyone else involved in the tournament,” Berrettini wrote in his post, which included a black-and-white image 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’m coming back stronger.”
The eighth-seeded Italian spent time rehearsing with Rafael Nadal at Center Court last week and also crossed paths with Novak Djokovic there.
Berrettini was to play 44th-ranked Cristian Garín in the first round on Tuesday. Berrettini was replaced in the field by Elias Ymer, who lost in qualifying but now has to take on Garín.
Berrettini was considered a title contender for Wimbledon, both because of last year’s run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club before losing to Djokovic – and because of his recent form on grass.
“I think he is definitely (one of) the two best, three players in the world on grass in the last three years. I think his results testify to that,” Djokovic said on Monday about Berrettini. “This is probably his favorite surface. For his game it is the most suitable surface. So there are a lot of expectations on his part that he will get far in this tournament. “
The 26-year-old Berrettini, who is addicted to big servings and big forehands, won two surface tuneup tournaments this month, winning 9-0 in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Queen’s Club in London.
That was how he returned to action after being out 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 came against six-time Wimbledon winner Djokovic and eight-time champion Roger Federer.
Another player left the tournament on Tuesday when Danka Kovinic withdrew due to a low back injury. She was replaced in the field by Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, who faces Sonay Kartal.
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