Adrian Mannarino of France was set to play in his third-round US Open match against Alex Zverev of Germany on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
But then the time went by, and there was no sign of the players on the court at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the New York borough of Queens.
Mannarino — who previously had been in contact with another player that had tested positive for coronavirus — said he was told as he was warming up that the New York State Department of Health had said that he would not be allowed to play Friday and that he should be quarantined in his hotel room and not be able to go on a tennis court.
Ultimately, Friday’s match was pushed back by a couple of hours, and Mannarino said he found out around 4:30 p.m. that he would be allowed to play. The match started after 5 p.m., with Mannarino going on to lose to Zverev in four sets.
Zverev told ESPN after his win: “I was told there was very little chance that we were going to play.”
It’s unclear why Mannarino initially wasn’t allowed to take the court despite having already played earlier this week. CNN has reached out to the New York State Department of Health and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office for comment.
Mannarino told reporters that he was thankful to those who helped him be able to play his match on Friday.
“Unfortunately I lost the match, but still, I’m happy I was on court,” Mannarino said.
A US Open statement Friday said, “The Zverev-Mannarino match was delayed while a collaborative dialogue with health officials was conducted today. Communication with the players was ongoing during the afternoon to keep them updated at all times. Given the sensitivity of the medical issues involved, the (US Tennis Association) is not able to provide further details.”
Zverev said after the match, “I guess New York state called and said that he shouldn’t play. It was back and forth, back and forth. It was political. It was not us players. We were just sitting around.”
In an interview with reporters, Novak Djokovic weighed in on the matter by saying he wasn’t happy with how the situation was managed and communicated to players.
“I’m hoping this can be improved. I’m hoping this is only this year and only this tournament, but it doesn’t seem like that,” adding that players may face similar circumstances going forward.
Player tests positive for Covid-19
US Open officials revealed Sunday that an unnamed player had tested positive for coronavirus. US Open spokesman Chris Widmaier had told CNN in an email earlier this week that the player couldn’t be named due to US health laws, but he was identified as Frenchman Benoit Paire, by French sports daily L’Equipe. He has since been widely identified in other news outlets, by other players and on social media.
CNN reached out to a representative for Paire but did not hear back.
Mannarino and others had been in contact with Paire, but Mannarino said he found out Sunday he was eligible to play in tournament, one of tennis’ four Grand Slam events.
All the players in his situation signed documentation agreeing to the protocols, including to not be in contact with other players, he said. Mannarino defeated Lorenzo Sonego of Italy on Monday in the first round and then beat American Jack Sock in the second round Wednesday.
Mannarino said he has not considered getting a lawyer. On Friday, Mannarino said that other players, including Paire, are still isolated at a hotel. Mannarino said that he can’t leave New York “before next Friday” because of the situation.
Paire’s name was subsequently removed from the official draw before the tournament started and replaced by an alternate. Paire took to Instagram on Monday evening to say he was “well for the moment” and did not have any symptoms.
“I hesitate to say what is really happening in the fake bubble,” he added.
Asked why Mannarino was cleared to play despite the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State Department of Health stating that those coming into contact with infected people should quarantine, Widmaier told CNN earlier this week that “enhanced protocols were in place.”
“Together with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the USTA has built an enhanced protocol plan for those players who might have been potentially exposed to the infected player,” he said. “As part of these enhanced protocols, potentially exposed players will now be tested on a daily basis, rather than every four days.”