Australian Open qualifying crisis after player told he had coronavirus during match

Ruben Hill
January 14, 2021

The men's qualifying tournament for the year's first Grand Slam is being hosted by Qatar from January 10-13, while the women are competing in Dubai.

Denis Kudla and Francisco Cerundolo have both been rushed into quarantine at the Australian Open qualifying event in Doha after testing positive for COVID-19. The chair umpire didn't stop the match and world No. 114 Kudla broke Benchetrit to earn a straight-set win.

Despite being rushed into quarantine, world No. 114 ranked Kudla was declared the victor of his match against Moroccan Elliot Benchetrit, 6-4, 6-3, having led 5-3 in the second set when the match was interrupted. "The rule was to finish the game in progress before the match was stopped and it was during the last game of the match so he was declared the victor", Benchetrit said.

If Benchetrit had won the game to extend the match, it would have been declared a walkover in his favour.

"At 5-3, they got the result", said on Instagram.

Rules instructed that the game between the two had to finish before a result would be determined, with Kudla making it 6-3, but if Benchetrit had won that game to make it 5-4 he would have been declared the victor by walkover.

Cerundolo was due to face Spain's Mario Vilella Martinez but received his positive result before taking to the court.

Denis Kudla was a set and a break up in his tie against Elliot Benchetrit with the score at 5-3 in the second when match officials were told of the former's positive test.

Tennis Australia confirmed the positive tests in a statement. Despite Kudla's disqualification, it is highly likely that the Nice-born and recently nationalized Moroccan tennis player will not win the match either: will be considered close contact of your rival and must comply with a ten-day quarantine.

"Local health authorities, the tournament physician and medical team are monitoring each individual. Contact tracing is now underway to notify close contacts", the statement said.

A general view of Rod Laver Arena during the 2020 Australian Open.

Benchetrit further expressed his concern in an interview with Tennis Majors, stating that players were permitted to play before receiving their results.

"The concept of a test is to have the information beforehand so as not to endanger the linesman, the opponent, or simply every person the player may meet before or after his match".

The board is truncated, there is going to be a player in the 3rd round of the qualifications having played only one match, that's also the problem.

He later shared another video on social media saying he had tested negative and was able to return home.

The Australian Open is scheduled to start on February 8 with the qualifying event already underway in Doha.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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