With just days to go to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the player field for the Tennis Event continues to be depleted after the withdrawal of Coco Gaugh and Matteo Berrettini, while the detection of positive COVID-19 in the Athletes Village is of growing concern.
I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won't be able to play at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this dream come true in the future. Coco Gauff
Gauff pulled out of Tokyo after testing positive, leaving the American team for for the women’s singles with Jennifer Brady, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske, although Shelby Rogers could now be joining them, as she was the highest-ranked American not to qualify but was in the top 60 when the rankings shut.
“I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won’t be able to play at the Olympic Games in Tokyo”, the 17-year-old Gauff wrote on Twitter.
“It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this dream come true in the future.
“I want to wish TEAM USA the best of luck and a safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”
Italy’s men’s Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini has withdrawn due to a thigh injury.
“I am extremely disappointed to announce my withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympic Games,” the 25-year-old said on Instagram. “I had an MRI scan yesterday on the thigh injury I sustained during Wimbledon and was informed I will not be able to compete for a couple of weeks.
“Representing Italy is the biggest honour for me so it is devastating to miss the Olympics.
“I wish the entire Italian team the best of luck in Tokyo. I will be supporting you all the way.”
Meanwhile, Yelena Vesnina joins the Russian squad in the women’s singles after Daria Kasatkina withdrew citing health issues.
Several of the biggest names in British tennis are not competing at Tokyo, with Dan Evans and Johanna Konta unable to travel after having testing positive for coronavirus.
As a result Liam Broady has been handed a place in the men’s singles at Tokyo 2020, the British Olympic Association has announced.
The British No 5 will link up with the Team GB tennis squad in Japan after being offered a spot by the ITF based on his world ranking of 141.
The 27-year-old will join Andy and Jamie Murray, Neal Skupski, Joe Salisbury and Heather Watson in the group.
Team GB tennis team leader Iain Bates said: “This is brilliant news for Liam, and I am delighted he is able to take up the spot and represent Team GB at his first Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“Thanks to the BOA and ITF for their hard work behind the scenes to ensure that Liam was able to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Broady’s addition further bolsters the British tennis ranks after Jamie Murray received a call-up last week for the men’s doubles.
Unfortunately, 6 British athletes and 2 staff members are isolating in their rooms at the training camp in Yokohoma, having been identified as close contacts of a member of the public who tested positive for Covid-19 on their flight, which arrived from London on Friday.
The news followed positive tests for Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi, two South African footballers, along with the team’s video analyst.
More than 50 Games-related Covid cases have been recorded since the start of the month, with one Nigerian official hospitalised.
Despite the high-profile absentees, Novak Djokovic headlines the men’s singles, which includes World No 2 Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev also set to compete.
Andy Murray is also preparing to defend his title, having won the singles gold medal in the last two Olympic Games, sealing a famous win in the deciding match against Roger Federer in London 2012, and backing that up with a victory against Juan Martin Del Potro in an epic finale in 2016 Rio.
While Murray’s story since 2016 has been a tale of injury woe, the Scot has been training alongside Heather Watson at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in south London, and spoke about his chances of challenging for medals in the Olympics during a press conference at Wimbledon.
“My goal is to try and win a medal – ideally a gold one,” said Murray. “It will be great to go to Tokyo and play there.
“We’re lucky that the Olympics are going ahead this year and personally I’ve always enjoyed the experience of the games. I want to win for my country and will give my best effort to do that.”
In the women’s draw, home favourite Naomi Osaka makes her return to action, while World No 1 and newly crowned Wimbledon champion Ash Barty is also set to play.
Barty, 25, heads into the Games aiming to join Steffi Graf (1988) and Venus (2000) and Serena (2012) Williams as the only women in the Open era to win Wimbledon and Olympic singles gold in the same year.
“Being able to represent Australia at the Olympics is going to be an awesome experience and it’s important over this next period to celebrate the fact we’ve achieved something really special at Wimbledon,” Barty told Australian media.
“I have a lot of other goals, dreams that are in my mind and within my team and we’ll certainly reset in the next couple of days … enjoy some time together and then we go again. But really looking forward to the Olympics.”
The 2019 French Open champion had said it was miracle she even had the chance to play at Wimbledon after a hip injury forced her to retire in the Roland Garros second round.
“In the last six weeks I’ve cried a lot. A lot of it was through heartbreak at the French and now, through a sense of joy and happiness and how much everything has changed,” Barty added.
“We said from the French there will be a silver lining and we’ve found it.”
The draw for the Olympic tennis event is scheduled to take place on Thursday 22 July at 11am local time at Ariake Tennis Park, while action begins on Saturday 24 July.