After the disastrous fallout from the Adria Tour, one might have hoped that tennis had learned its lesson. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case. Instead, Frances Tiafoe, ranked 81st in the world, has tested positive for the virus, forcing him to withdraw from the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Atlanta. The exhibition event, which featured an all-American line-up, allowed spectators to attend, albeit with social distancing measures enforced.
There were also no ball kids in attendance, with players handling their own towels and recovering the balls. But there will still surely be real concerns that the virus could have spread amongst the other players and possibly even the fans. Indeed, Tiafoe was tested before his arrival in Atlanta, with that result coming back as negative. He had also passed daily temperature tests, but did take a medical time out during his match against Sam Querrey after feeling unwell during the match.
His positive test during the tournament suggests that he may have picked up the virus during his time in Atlanta, although with a variable incubation time and a widespread, largely uncontrolled outbreak throughout the US, it is impossible to be certain of this. For the remainder of the tournament, Tiafoe, who left the site to enter quarantine on medical advice, will be replaced by the big-serving Christopher Eubanks, who has a career-high ranking of world #147.
The organisers of the US Open, set to begin on August 31st, may well be following events in Atlanta with some concern. It was inevitable that tennis would face obstacles in returning from the pandemic due to the global nature of the sport and it is not a good sign that players at two exhibitions, separated by the Atlantic Ocean, have tested positive. That said, there is no suggestion yet that the US Open or the warm-up Masters event are in danger of being cancelled.
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