Cracks in the tennis bubble; criticism of US Open swells up

There’s been unrest at the US Open in New York about the security of the ‘bubble‘ protecting tennis players from the coronavirus. It turns out that one of the two player hotels on Long Island is not exclusively reserved for participants.

“And that was announced to us in advance,” says double specialist Wesley Koolhof. “Many players are angry at how this is being handled. When I’m at the hotel, I don’t get out of my room so as not to risk contamination.”

Koolhof takes the safe side, even though he himself sleeps in the other, safe Marriott hotel. There are only people who are present at the US Open. In the nearby Garden City hotel, however, not everything turns out to be okay.

Unexpected guests in elevator and lobby

In the latter hotel about forty players spend the night with their entourage and they have complained about the unsafe nature of their accommodation. The hotel would also accommodate guests who have nothing to do with tennis. The tennis players, who have been promised to sit in a safe ‘bubble’, came across unexpected people in the elevator, lobby or breakfast room.

Also the hotel staff appears not to be exclusively employed by the tennis players. At least as curious is the fact that weddings were celebrated in the hotel, where the guests walked freely in and out. Players also report that the hotel still offers rooms via booking sites.

Four weddings

“The USTA (the American Tennis Association, ed.) never said that this hotel would be available for other guests. In fact, four weddings were supposed to have been held there last weekend. And now there are just rooms to book”, says Koolhof.

The French tennis player Benoit Paire typified the New York tennis bubble as a ‘false security’. He was excluded from participation on Sunday, after his coronation test yielded a positive result.

Paire, the number 23 in the world, then refused several interview requests, but came up with a statement on Instagram. “I’m doing fine. I don’t have any symptoms right now. I doubt I should tell you what’s really going on in this fake bubble.”

Sending Paire away had as a consequence that seven other tennis players, who had been in contact with the Frenchman, were placed in a so-called ‘bubble in the bubble’, compulsorily shielded from the rest of the tennis players.

These were Kristina Mladenovic, Gregoire Barrere, Richard Gasquet, Adrian Mannarino, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Ysaline Bonaventure and Kirsten Flipkens.

Mladenovic described the stringent measures as “physically and mentally very heavy” and does not have a good word left for the USTA. “It’s abominable how they treat us here. I get the impression we’re in jail.”

Evil blood

The sanction for the seventeen put bad blood on the Argentinean Guido Pella and the Bolivian Hugo Dellien.

The pair were excluded from further participation two weeks ago during the Western & Southern Open (formerly the Cincinnati tournament), which was also played at the park of the US Open, and had to be quarantined for two weeks because their physical therapist had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The American tennis association USTA said in a reaction to the English newspaper The Telegraph that the organization still feels “comfortable” with the established protocols. The union emphasized once again to follow the advice of the Health Service of the state of New York.

The USTA also said that tennis players have a high degree of self-responsibility.