The top seeds in women’s doubles, Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos, were dropped from the draw ahead of their second-round match against Gabriela Dabrowski and Alison Riske at the US Open on Saturday.
Mladenovic had been identified as one of the players in close contact with Benoit Paire, who tested positive for Coronavirus ahead of the hard-court Grand Slam.
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While France’s Mladenovic was allowed to play two matches in singles — she lost in the second round to Varvara Gracheva in three sets after blowing a 6-1, 5-1 lead — and the first round of doubles, she was not allowed to compete Saturday onwards due to new quarantine orders.
Following Paire’s positive test, seven players were identified to have been in close contact and thus ‘most affected’. They were on an ‘enhanced protocol plan’ which meant they were allowed access only to the tournament site and their hotel.
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But, with New York State – as opposed to City— Health Department taking over on Friday, they barred the ‘most affected’ players from competing.
The new quarantine orders mean those players, “identified as having prolonged close contact with the infected player will quarantine in their rooms for the remainder of their quarantine period.”
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The US Tennis Association announced Saturday that it was removing Mladenovic and her partner, Babos of Hungary, saying it was “obligated to adhere to government guidance.”
Simply unfair to let one player play yesterday (Mannarino) and not let another play today (Mladenovic)
Rules should all be about consistency, not making them up as you go along https://t.co/MlVyAhgo9M
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) September 5, 2020
On Friday, Adrian Mannarino’s match against Alexander Zverev was delayed by more than two hours as the ATP and USTA negotiated with the NY state health department to let him compete. Though Mannarino was eventually allowed to play, he lost in four sets to Zverev.
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The quarantine orders also state that the seven players on the enhanced protocol plan are not allowed to leave the ‘bubble’ before September 11. Which means they are neither allowed to compete nor fly back to Europe to start preparing for the clay season.
Mladenovic had said that they were being treated as ‘prisoners or criminals,’ after losing in the second round in singles.
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The French government’s offer to fly the players, most of whom are from France, back on a private jet, was also rejected.
The decision may affect their preparation for the French Open, as the first Masters event on clay starts on September 14 with the Italian Open. Some of the players – Richard Gasquet, Grégoire Barrere and Kristen Flipkens – are supposed to play in the qualifying event, which starts on the day they are supposed to leave New York.
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As a concession, the seven players have been allowed to practice on clay-courts at another facility located in the city.