April 14, 2024

Open Court


Trainer’s positive test costs Pella, Dellien a “Cincy” bid


This, now, is the world of tennis “news” that fans will be navigating for the foreseeable future.

The official release Thursday from the Western & Southern Open goes like this:

“Yesterday, the Western & Southern Open and US Open Medical Team learned that an individual (non-player) tested positive for COVID-19 within the Western & Southern Open and US Open controlled environment. That individual is currently isolating for 10 days. After initiating the internal contact tracing process, it was determined that two players have been in close and prolonged contact with this individual. The players are not experiencing any symptoms. However, with input from the Western & Southern Open and US Open Medical Team, and in consultation with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, those two players have been removed from the 2020 Western & Southern Open and are currently under quarantine.”

That is the test that the US Open tournament officials referred to in their conference call on Tuesday, who was negative for his first coronavirus test.

The man was thus able to pick up his credential and get on site. But the second test, 48 hours later, turned up positive.


Who is it? Check Twitter/Insta

While you understand that they cannot reveal the names of the people involved, you’d think they would ask those people if they gave their permission to release their names.

Otherwise, it’s going to go like this – you have to follow every tennis journalist you know on Twitter and hope that someone has sussed it out. Or that the players themselves put something on social media.

In this case, the non-player who caused the commotion is reported to be Juan Galván, who is the physical trainer for two South American players – Argentina’s Guido Pella and Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien.

The source, who put it out there before the player themselves, is reputed Argentine tennis writer Sebastián Torok.

The trickle-down effect

The result of the positive test for Galván, who reportedly is asymptomatic and in good shape, is that the players he had contact with must quarantine for at 14 days. Thus, they are out of the “Cincinnati” tournament.

They are also out some significant money, as well.

Another consequence, according to Torok, is that Galván’s roommate at the official hotel also must quarantine.

That’s former Tour player José Acasuso, who is the coach of Pella. The tournament’s release made no mention of this third person affected.

So far, Torok reports, all three have tested negative.

So far.

A 14-day quarantine takes the players right to their scheduled first-round matches at the US Open.

Dellien was pretty excited behind the mask, on his first day in New York a few days ago. That excitement quickly turned into … 14 days stuck in a Long Island Marriott. (Dellien’s Instagram)

According to what the USTA said Tuesday, a positive test wouldn’t necessary disqualify them from competing in the big event. “It will really depend on the symptoms of the athletes, and the doctors will make that determination if they’re eligible to complete,” tournament director Stacey Allaster said.

That presumably would apply even more strongly to someone who was merely quarantining, and had never tested positive. However, it’s far too soon to tell if Dellien, Pella or Acasuso contracted COVID from Galván. They will continue to be tested regularly.

And it’s too soon to know whether, if they did, they would end up with more complicated symptoms.

Pella explains on Instagram

In a Spanish-language post on Instagram, Pella confirmed the news and said that he had contact with Galván last week in Miami, when they were preparing for this return to play in New York.

He added that Acasuso had contact with Galván on the plane trip to New York.

Pella added that all three felt “perfect”. From what I could understand, he made no mention of Dellien.

Dellien disappointed

The Bolivian Dellien was clearly disappointed as he also posted a video on Instagram, about a half hour after Pella did.

He said that he also had contact with Galván, with whom he plans to work during this US Open bubble, last week in Miami.

Dellien, 27, is a late bloomer who reached his career high of No. 72 just before the Australian Open this year.

This would have been only the third time the Bolivian even played a Masters 1000. He lost in the first round of Miami a year ago, and qualified in Madrid last spring.

He said he didn’t know yet if he can play the US Open; it would be only his second main-draw appearance there.

Enough COVID drama, already!

Dellien has had enough coronavirus drama in his life already this year. He and wife Camila (a former player) live in Paraguay, but he trains in Buenos Aires. After the coronavirus cancelled Indian Wells, he was finally able to get to Buenos Aires. The borders in Argentina closed. Then the borders closed in Paraguay. His only option ended up being Bolivia, where his family still lives. He was there for… three months.

That was bad enough – except that his first child, daughter Mila, was born April 25. It took months before they were finally reunited.

Another consequence: Dellien hasn’t played since Davis Cup in early March. Pella hasn’t played since losing in the first round of the Rio tournament in mid-February – more than six months ago. And both of those were on clay.

So the two players will have to go straight into the US Open – if they can play – not only extremely rusty, but without any matches on hard courts since the Australian Open in January.

Not only that, they will be stuck in their hotel rooms the next 14 days and (presumably) unable to even train. It’s off the charts.

Costly test

Pella’s coach Juan Acasuso (seen here when he was still playing, at the French Open in 2013) had contact with Galván. La Nacion reports that the two are also hotel roommates. So he also must quarantine for 14 days. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

For Pella, even losing in the first round of the “Cincinnati” main draw would have been worth $24,560 US.

For Dellien, who was in the qualifying, that’s a $6,655 US paycheque.

Pella was also entered in the doubles with countryman Diego Schwartzman. They would have split $12,910 US even if they lost in the first round.

Schwartzman would be eligible to re-team with another player. But he’ll have to find someone whose ranking (singles or doubles) is high enough that they would still make the original cut. At this point, that means someone in the top 50 either in singles or doubles.

So there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.

Also, if memory serves, the second hotel room for the physical trainer and/or coach is not covered by the tournament. Not to mention the fact that since Galván is positive and Acasuso (so far) negative, they would need to be in separate rooms to isolate.

So the players will be on the hook for those rooms – now a double cost – even though they will not be able to earn a paycheque this week.

The insurance the players get through the ATP Tour, which also covers a “plus-one”, might cover the coach’s costs, from what we’re told.

(Update: we’re told Acasuso tested negative again on Thursday. But it can take much longer for the virus to appear, so what a long, anxious wait).

Qualifying ALTs need to be on site

Because of those withdrawals, Alexander Bublik was able to move into the “Cincinnati” main draw.

American Denis Kudla and Taro Daniel of Japan got into the qualifying at the 11th hour. Luckily, they were on site.

Because now that the draw is made, if there are any more vacancies, those hoping to fill them will have had to already undergone the two coronavirus tests, 48 hours apart, and tested negative before they could take the court for a first-round qualifying match Thursday.

It’s all very complicated. And this is only one case.

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