Covid-hit Berrettini pulls out of Wimbledon as Swiatek extends streak

Published June 29, 2022
LONDON: Poland’s Iga Swiatek hits a return to Jana Fett of Croatia during their first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday.—AFP
LONDON: Poland’s Iga Swiatek hits a return to Jana Fett of Croatia during their first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday.—AFP

LONDON: Title contender Matteo Berrettini was forced to pull out of Wimbledon on Tuesday after testing positive for coronavirus as women’s top seed Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 36 matches.

The early action at the All England Club on Tuesday was overshadowed by the announcement from Berrettini — last year’s runner-up — that he was out of the event.

“I am heartbroken to announce that I need to withdraw from @wimbledon due to a positive Covid-19 test result,” the 26-year-old Italian wrote on Instagram.

Berrettini was widely regarded as one of the biggest threats to defending champion Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, having captured back-to-back grass-court titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s.

He is the second man to withdraw from Wimbledon with Covid in two days after 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic of Croatia also tested positive.

“I have no words to describe the extreme disappointment I feel,” Berrettini, seeded eighth, said in his statement. “The dream is over for this year, but I will be back stronger.”

His place in the Wimbledon first round will be taken by Sweden’s Elias Ymer, a lucky loser from qualifying.

Wimbledon has returned to normal this year after the tournament was cancelled due to Covid in 2020 and last year was played in front of reduced crowds.

The All England Club said in a statement that protocols remained in place to minimise the risk of infection.

Poland’s world number one Swiatek coasted into the second round with a routine 6-0, 6-3 against Croatian qualifier Jana Fett.

The French Open champion, who has won her past six tournaments, said she was relishing the atmosphere at the grass-court tournament.

“I feel I have only played 12 weeks of my life on grass but the whole atmosphere and tradition is pumping me up and just looking forward to the next matches,” she said.

Also in the women’s draw, fourth seed Paula Badosa of Spain needed only 56 minutes to reach round two by beating American Louisa Chirico 6-2, 6-1.

Simona Halep marked her first appearance at the All England Club since lifting the Wimbledon title in 2019 with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Karolina Muchova while American 11th seed Coco Gauff came back from one set down to beat Elena-Gabriela Ruse 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko staved off a late comeback attempt by Oceane Dodin to win 6-4, 6-4 and fifth seed Maria Sakkari joined her in the second round by easing past Australian Zoe Hives 6-1, 6-4.

But Olympic champion Belinda Bencic crashed out in the first round after she was beaten 6-4 5-7 6-2 by China’s Wang Qiang.

On the men’s side, Australian Nick Kyrgios sent down 30 aces and made 55 unforced errors against Briton Paul Jubb before reaching the second round with a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7(3-7), 7-5 victory.

American Reilly Opelka fired down 21 aces in his 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Carlos Taberner while Britain’s Ryan Peniston also reached round two on his Grand Slam debut with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen.

On Monday, former champion Andy Murray gave the local fans reason to cheer on the opening day after he won his first-round match on Centre Court.

Murray overcame an opening set hiccup to maintain his 100% record in the first round at Wimbledon to beat Australian James Duckworth 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 under the floodlights in a match where the roof was closed for the final set.

John Isner fired 54 aces and 97 winners to knock out French qualifier Enzo Couacaud 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 and will next face Murray.

Carlos Alcaraz, the youngest man in the draw, had a tough opening match against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff but the 19-year-old Spaniard produced some stunning shots that made the highlight reel in a 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 victory.

Women’s world number three Anett Kontaveit began her bid to reach the second week for the first time with a 7-5, 6-1 win against Bernarda Pera of the United States.

Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins was the day’s biggest casualty as the seventh-seeded American was knocked out by Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic. The world number 66 clawed back from a break down in the final set to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Former champion and 15th seed Angelique Kerber beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-0, 7-5 to move into the second round. Kerber, who won the title in 2018, will play Magda Linette in the next round.

Beatriz Haddad Maia, who arrived with a season-leading 12 match wins on grass with title runs at Nottingham and Birmingham, fell at the first hurdle. The 28th-ranked Brazilian lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2022

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