Wimbledon has lost its third top-20 star to COVID-19 with former semi-finalist Roberto Bautista-Agut the latest to withdraw with the virus.
Bautista-Agut, the 17th seed, pulled out on Thursday ahead of his scheduled second-round meeting with Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan.
“Fortunately, the symptoms are not very serious but I think it is the best decision. I hope to come back soon,” the Spaniard posted on Twitter
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Bautista Agut’s scratching follows the withdrawal of last year’s finalist Matteo Berrettini and 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic earlier in the week with the coronavirus.
Apart from raising the spectre of a growing outbreak among players at the All England Club, the departure of the ailing trio also further opens the door for Australian title hopeful Nick Kyrgios.
Berrettini, Cilic and Bautista Agut were all in Kyrgios’s half of the draw.
If Kyrgios can beat Greek world No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in his third-round match on Saturday, he is certain to face an unseeded player in for a place in the quarter-finals.
That would be either world No.109 Galan or American Brandon Nakashima, the world No.56 who eliminated Canadian 13th seed Denis Shapovalov on Thursday.
Wimbledon officials are essentially relying on an honour system among the players to help avoid a COVID outbreak.
Players feeling unwell are encouraged to take a test. If they test positive, they are encouraged to reveal that and remove themselves from the tournament.
“I won’t lie: When I have a cough or something, I get paranoid. It’s what we kind of have to learn to live with. I feel bad for people who test positive. A place like Wimbledon is definitely not where you want to have it,” said Ajla Tomljanovic, Kyrgios’s former girlfriend and fellow Australian.
“If you have symptoms or you’re feeling under the weather, it’s your responsibility.
“I think we all travel with home kits; at least I do. And then once you’ve tested positive, that’s where it comes in that you just say you have it.
“Because you could have lower symptoms and try to play, but that wouldn’t be the right thing to do.”
Like Kyrgios, Tomljanovic is also through to the third round and will play 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.
At Roland Garros last month, Krejcikova lost her opening match in singles, then withdrew before trying to defend her doubles championship there after saying she tested positive for COVID-19.