NEW YORK — The top-seeded women’s doubles team was dropped from the U.S. Open because one of the players, Kristina Mladenovic of France, was issued a quarantine notice by public health officials from the county where her tournament hotel is.
Mladenovic was one of seven players placed under extra restrictions during the tournament after contact tracing determined she potentially could have been exposed to COVID-19 by Benoit Paire, the only entrant to test positive.
The U.S. Tennis Association announced Saturday that it was removing Mladenovic and her partner, Timea Babos of Hungary, saying it was “obligated to adhere to government guidance.”
Mladenovic and Babos were supposed to play their second-round match against Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Alison Riske of the U.S., who advanced via walkover.
Mladenovic had been allowed to compete until Saturday, playing two matches in singles – she lost in the second round after blowing a 6-1, 5-1 lead – and winning one in doubles.
And the other half-dozen players found to have contact with Paire also played in the tournament, including No. 32 seed Adrian Mannarino in men’s singles, whose match Friday was delayed for more than 2+ hours until it was determined he could play. He lost.
The USTA said the new quarantine orders arrived after Mannarino’s match and meant those players “identified as having prolonged close contact with the infected player will quarantine in their rooms for the remainder of their quarantine period.”
Mary Ellen Laurain, a spokeswoman for the Nassau County Department of Health, said medical privacy rules prevented her from discussing the cases of individual players. But she said 14-day quarantine orders are issued for any person living or staying in the county, including at hotels, who has had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
No fans are allowed inside the gates at the U.S. Open because of the pandemic, but 2019 semifinalist Matteo Berrettini’s most loyal supporter found a way to offer encouragement Saturday by yelling from outside a fence near Court 17.
After beating No. 30 seed Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to return to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows, No. 6 Berrettini was asked whether he was aware of his pal’s attempts to be heard.
“Nobody didn’t hear him,” said Berrettini, a 24-year-old from Rome. “Was really loud today. I think louder than the other days.”
The fan is also Italian and owns the restaurant on Manhattan’s Lower East Side where Berrettini went for dinner most nights during his lengthy stay in New York a year ago. His pal even sat in Berrettini’s guest box during that run, wearing a shirt festooned with the word “Carbonara.”
On Saturday, he was outside the fence, shouting in Italian, saying phrases that mean “Let’s go!” or “Be strong!”
NOT BAD, EH?
Everyone’s been anticipating big things from young Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is 20 and seeded 15th, and Denis Shapovalov, who’s 21 and seeded 12th – and they’re both still around at this year’s U.S. Open.
What about another player from Canada, Vasek Pospisil? He’s 30, ranked 94th and hadn’t played an official match since February when he arrived at Flushing Meadows.
“To be honest,” Pospisil said, “I wasn’t expecting a lot.”
Well, now Pospisil is into the fourth round for the first time in nine appearances at the U.S. Open, thanks to his upset of No. 8 Roberto Bautista Agut by a 7-5, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 score Saturday. That followed Pospisil’s elimination of another seed, No. 25 Milos Raonic, who just so happens to be from Canada, too.
Pospisil is dealing with an abdominal strain and a thigh strain but hanging in there.
“I think I’m more mature. I’m better at using my energy more (carefully),” said Pospisil, who won the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title with Jack Sock. “As you get older, you figure those things out better.”
Pospisil, who is helping Novak Djokovic start a new association for men’s tennis players, can get to the second Grand Slam singles quarterfinal of his career by beating No. 21 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia next.