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Andy Murray: Tour won’t return if Adria Tour debacle repeats

In the wake of a disastrous weekend for tennis at the Adria Tour, Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet express the hope that tennis can take the valuable lesson and move forward wiser from it.

Andy Murray SHANGHAI, Oct. 8, 2019 Andy Murray of Britain reacts after the men’s singles second round match between Fabio Fognini of Italy and Andy Murray of Britain at 2019 ATP Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai, east China, on Oct. 8, 2019.

Billed as a union of “top tennis aces”, the controversial Adria Tour came to a sputtering halt on Sunday in Croatia when the final had to be cancelled due to Grigor Dimitrov’s positive Covid-19 test result. A total of three players and several other entourage members have tested positive for Covid-19 while Novak Djokovic, the event’s organiser, awaits his own test results.

On Monday the conversation surrounding the event continued at a rapid clip. 

Andy Murray spoke about the news at a briefing for the upcoming “Battle of the Brits,” and stated that the coronavirus simply cannot be taken lightly, especially when travel from countries that may have higher case counts factors into the equation. 

“Once you start to bring international travel into it, with players and team members from all different parts of the world coming in, you need to make sure you’re taking all the correct measures, safety measures, all the precautions that you can, to try avoid a situation like they got into over there,” Murray said, according to the Guardian

It has been a difficult time for Djokovic, who is seen as culpable and came under fire as a result, but not all the blame should rest on his shoulders, says France’s Richard Gasquet.

“Djokovic is not the culprit,” he told L’equipe. “It was not he who put a gun on the guys’ temples to demand that there be 5,000 spectators. It was the government that chose to accommodate these 5,000 people in one place.” 

Richard Gasquet, UTS 2020Still, like so many others, Gasquet would not deny that the spectacle that was the Adria Tour – complete with packed stands, kids’ clinics, hugs and handshakes – was too much too soon.  

It was delusional,” he said. “It was the only place in the world where we saw an audience like that.” 

Gasquet : “The tournaments are not going to stop for that”

After Grigor Dimitrov’s positive test on Sunday, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki have been added to the list. There’s also Dimitrov’s coach Christian Groh, Dimitrov’s physio Algis Hristov, Djokovic’s physio Marco Panichi, and Troicki’s wife, Alexandra, who is pregnant. 

Fear is growing that the events of the weekend may threaten the plan to resume the tennis calendar in August, and to hold the US Open in New York City, beginning on August 31. Even if the US Open is played, the tournament may be forced to rethink its policies and make their social distancing guidelines even stricter, which could then cause a lower percentage of top players to commit. 

None of what has transpired over the weekend will be good for the game. The more important question is: how bad was it?

Gasquet thinks it’s just a matter of tennis getting used to operating in the “new normal”. He believes that as long as tournaments are diligent with their protocols, they will be able to avoid situations like the one that occurred at the Adria Tour in the future. 

“On people’s minds, it’s strange to have these positive cases. But you just have to understand that we are entering a new era,” he said. “A completely different world from the one we knew. But it would surprise me that [what happened with the Adria Tour] would stop the circuit. The tournaments are not going to stop for that.”

With the season in jeopardy, clinging by a thread, the lessons of the Adria Tour may prove valuable to the tours as they move forward: It’s far better to err on the side of caution than to risk the health of players and of the tour. 

“I hope that we learn from it and off the back of it they will be taking it extremely seriously because ultimately the tour won’t get back again if we are having problems every single week and the players are doing what they want,” said Murray. “We need to make sure we are doing the right thing.”

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