I keep on calling this US Open bizarre because, well, it is. Over the past week we have frequently heard from the 7 players who were deemed to have been in close contact with Benoit Paire. Instead of being forced to withdraw from the tournament and quarantine for 14 days, they have been competing under new protocols and completely separated from other players. Yesterday the story hit new lows as the match between Adrian Mannarino and Alexander Zverev was delayed. Amid endless rumours, what happened was that New York State stepped in and attempted to overrule the City’s decision to allow Mannarino to compete. What followed was tense negotiations until he was finally allowed to play. Here is Mannarino’s explanation after his four set loss to Zverev:
Q. Could you explain why the match was delayed at the start? Were you told at any point today that you would not be allowed to play this match?
ADRIAN MANNARINO: Well, I was preparing to go on court. Actually was like 2:30pm. We knew there was a not before 2:30pm. I was just trying to get ready, warming up with my coach. I was actually ready to go on court. It was 2:30pm or something.
The tour manager came to talk to me at this time. He explained me the situation. Obviously the State Department of Health took over the City actually. The City actually allowed me to play with a new protocol on Sunday. Obviously the State took over this decision to say that I’ve been exposed to a positive case obviously, so I should be quarantined in my room and not be able to go on the tennis court and play the match today.
They told me they were trying to contact on phone some guys to see if this decision could be changed. Obviously many effort has been done. They told me, Okay, we decided to put your match not before 5:00. Sascha agreed, which is nice. They told me, We’re going to have a look at the situation, trying to see if we can get you on court today, which obviously they did.
Many things might have been happening during this time. I was just trying to get ready. I said myself to be ready to go on court at 5:00. I told my coach if anything happen, I give him my phone, I say, Just try to see what’s going on, I’ll let you handle all these things, I’m just going to try to eat something, get ready, focus, just be prepared as if I was going on court at 5:00. Let’s see if I’m not able to go, then I’m not able to go. But if I’m in a position to be able to play, I just want to be ready.
I just want to be thankful to all these people who have been trying to get me on court today. As I say, many effort has been done. I was able to play my tennis match. I’m pretty happy about that.
Then I heard actually around 4:30 or 4:40 that I’ve been allowed to go on court today. I needed to be prepared to go at 5:00, which I did. Happen what happened. Unfortunately I lost the match. But still, as I said, I’m happy I was on court.