Double fault: Players forget ‘protocol’ on winning in Palermo

Sara Errani and Kaja Juvan seemed to have forgotten momentarily about the Covid-19 protocols, and threw their sweatbands into the crowd in Palermo

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Sara Errani. File Photo

It has been difficult for everyone to adjust to the new ‘normal’ in the Covid-19 world. And even as tennis action restarted in Palermo this week, players seem to have gone back to old ways of celebration.

Italy’s Sara Errani, overjoyed after a hard-fought 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 win over Sorana Cirstea in the opening round on Monday, seemed to have forgotten the new norms. She celebrated by throwing her sweatband to a young fan, who was wearing a mask, in the stadium.

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Even as the fan ran away happy with the souvenir, Errani immediately realized her mistake and apologized to the umpire.

The 33-year-old Italian was outdone by Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan.

After beating second seed Marketa Vondroušová in the first round on Tuesday, Juvan tossed a sweatband and visor to the kids who were seen cheering her on. When one of the items fell short, Juvan walked up to the kids, and after a brief discussion with someone, handed it to them.

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The Palermo Open, which marks the sport’s return after almost five months of shutdown due to Coronavirus, is allowing a limited number of spectators every day. They have put social distancing measures in place and players have to undergo temperature checks regularly.

But Croatia’s Donna Vekic said earlier in the week that they were not in a bio-secure bubble.

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“I have a feeling that in New York (during the US Open) it will be a real bubble. Here (in Palermo) they talk about us being in a bubble but it’s not at all,” the sixth seed said.

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“I don’t want to pretend that I’m locked in the room the whole day when I’m not.

“I went to dinner in the city. For sure we’re being careful and not being close to people, but I’m not locked in the room and 90 per cent of the players aren’t.”

Tennis has been one of the sports in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons recently.

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Four players, including World No 1 Novak Djokovic, had tested positive after playing in charity exhibition event Adria Tour.

One of the players involved in the tournament, Alexander Zverev, did test negative. But given the spate of positive tests he had published a statement on social media saying he would be self-isolating. Less than a week later, however, there were videos of him partying in France.

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Also, in the USA, Frances Tiafoe tested positive for the virus on the opening day of the All-American team Cup.

Last month, American player Danielle Collins was dismissed from World Team Tennis for breaking safety protocols. Collins drove two hours away, and crossed state borders, when the players were supposed to remain in a ‘bubble’ at the venue, Greenbrier Resort.

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