Katie Bouter bounces back at Battle of the Brits but new doubts shroud Madrid | Sport

There was entertainment and sunshine at home but continued uncertainty abroad as an unnamed player tested positive for Covid-19 in Sicily and the spread of the virus in northern Spain threatened the Madrid Open.

On the sixth day of the Battle of the Brits team event at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, meanwhile, Katie Boulter returned to her best on her 24th birthday, Kyle Edmund’s form stayed on its upward trajectory and Cam Norrie, unbeaten all week, retired with “tight hips” for physiotherapy when 0-4 down against the British No 1, Dan Evans.

In doubles, Andy Murray tuned up for his proposed return to the US Open next month with another encouraging runout, combining with Lloyd Glasspool to beat Edmund and Joe Salisbury 4-6, 6-3, 10-4.

The triple-slam champion looked sharp at the net and moved well at the back of the court. Murray said: “I thought we played really well. Solid serving, made quite a lot of returns”.

But the warm weather and bonhomie could not drive away the Covid-19 cloud that hangs over tennis more than most sports.

The Palermo Ladies Open, the first tournament on either Tour to resume after the suspension in March, is going ahead despite a scare on Saturday when an unnamed player tested positive for Covid-19 and withdrew from the tournament.

A WTA spokesperson insisted: “The [tournament] will continue as planned. All those who may have been in close contact with the individual are undergoing testing.”

Madrid organisers said they have listened to advice from local public health authorities, which want to cancel the event, but insist they are “analysing and closely evaluating all the possible options, while always focusing on guaranteeing the safety of all those involved in the tournament. The final decision will fall to Ion Tiriac and Super Slam Ltd, the tournament’s licence holder.” It is inconceivable Tiriac, even at his most perverse, would defy such a stern warning.

In the first match of the day in Roehampton, Boulter emerged from a slump to beat Beth Grey 6-1, 6-1 and said of the new tournament: “It’s awesome. We don’t get a chance to play a team event very often.”

After a cautious start in his singles match, Edmund walloped young Anton Matusevich, 6-2, 6-1 and, responding to the bad news from Madrid and Palermo, said: “It will be a miss not to have a big event like Madrid. Some places are better than others. Whenever Madrid is, probably seven weeks’ time, it might be different again. Paris might be different.

“It’s still there. You have to be careful, you could pick it up. There is more risk of getting something when you go to a different country. Unfortunately it’s not surprising. That’s why tennis has strict protocols in place, especially at the US Open.”

British and European players planning to travel to New York still don’t know if they will have to go into 14 days of quarantine on their return; they hope their status as elite athletes classifies them as exempt.

“Ensuring the feasibility of in-bound and out-bound travel for all players is of utmost importance,” the ATP told the Guardian. “Good progress is being made and we are working closely with tournaments and the respective national authorities to ensure the necessary assurances are received that will allow players to access and compete at subsequent events in the calendar.”

In London, Jodie Burrage showed grit and class to beat Emma Raducanu, 2-6, 6-2, 10-7 and admitted it was difficult to make further plans. “I was going to go to Thailand at the end of the month, but that’s just been cancelled,” she said. “I’ll sit down with my coach next week and try to plan a schedule – if there is one.”

Jan Choinski beat Alastair Gray 6-4, 4-6, 10-4 to help Judy Murray’s Union Jacks close the gap on Leon Smith’s British Bulldogs to a few points, before Harriet Dart and Beth Grey moved them five clear with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls.

The second series in the Jamie Murray initiative has been a surprising success, even without an audience. “I’d like to see a whole series of events like this, not just this year but for years to come,” said Scott Lloyd, the ATP chief executive.


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