Bautista Agut becomes third Covid withdrawal at Wimbledon

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Roberto Bautista Agut. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Roberto Bautista Agut. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Spanish 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut on Thursday became the third player to withdraw from this year's Wimbledon with Covid-19 in a fresh blow for the tournament, which has returned to full capacity this year.

"Today I have notified @Wimbledon of my withdrawal. I have tested positive for Covid-19," tweeted the 34-year-old.

"Fortunately, the symptoms are not very serious, but I think it is the best decision. Thanks for your support. I hope to come back soon."

The 2019 semi-finalist joins 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini as well as 2017 finalist Marin Cilic in pulling out of the event in the first week due to coronavirus.

Bautista Agut's withdrawal means that Colombia's Daniel Elahi Galan receives a walkover into the third round.

Wimbledon was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic while the 2021 edition was run at reduced capacity with players confined to a bubble.

This year it is business as usual, with up to 42 000 fans accommodated each day, while players are responsible for testing themselves if necessary.

That has led to fears that some will risk playing on at the tournament even if they are exhibiting symptoms.

"At the end of the day if you have got a bit of a cold, you play main draw of Wimbledon for 50 000 and a chance of more," said British player Liam Broady.

"I'm not sure some of the lower-ranked guys are going to Scout's honour take themselves away and do a Covid test."

Rafael Nadal had practised with Berrettini at the All England Club last week but said on Tuesday after his opening match that he was "feeling great".

Nadal said he had been told by a physio from the ATP men's tour that it was up to players to decide whether they tested or not.

"Now if you tell me even if you are positive, you can keep playing, this is something I didn't know," said the two-time Wimbledon champion.

"The only thing I used to know is up to you, even if you feel bad, if you want to be tested or not."

The All England Club told AFP on Thursday that their Covid policy "is constantly under review".

Berrettini, Cilic and Bautista Agut had all been placed in the same half of the draw as Nadal.

French player Alize Cornet added to questions over the health protocols in tennis by claiming there had been an "epidemic of Covid" at the recent French Open but "nobody talked about it".

"I saw girls wearing masks, perhaps because they knew and did not want to pass it on," she said.

Hours later, Cornet rowed back on her claims, writing on social media that she only "suspected a few cases of Covid during Roland Garros, without having any proof".

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