Three days into the Monte Carlo Masters, a big-name player has tested positive for COVID-19.
And the withdrawal of world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev prompted a rare move from the ATP Tour: an official announcement.
(Love those made-up press-release quotes).
The first order of business is that Juan Ignacio Londero gets in as a lucky loser, with a bye into the second round.
Medvedev was also scheduled to make a rare appearance in doubles. He and Marcelo Demoliner had gotten into as alternates, to face Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin.
They were withdrawn from the doubles as well.
Monday, Medvedev posted this on Instagram.
And to think that just two days ago, the Russian’s biggest pet peeve was the postponement of Roland Garros for a week.
Was Nadal exposed?
Medvedev learned of the positive test on Monday.
He also practiced with Rafael Nadal on Monday.
Of all people. Nadal has been among the most diligent about mask-wearing and saying all the right things about dealing with the pandemic.
Isolation for Medvedev
Lacking in the ATP statement is the location of Medvedev’s isolation.
Since he’s a Monte Carlo resident, he is allowed to isolate at home. Had he been staying in the official hotel, he would have had to move to a specially-designated hotel.
As someone who was staying at home, Medvedev would have had to be tested every day as part of the extra protocols for those in private housing.
The same would apply for coach Gilles Cervara (who presumably also was staying at home).
What is a close contact?
That quarantine period is 10 days, per the information given to the players.
But the question is what to do with, and how to define, close contacts. Medvedev would have been practicing with a number of players, including Nadal, over the last few days.
Here’s how it’s defined.
“Close Contact case is defined as a person who has not observed Covid-19 health and safety measures (e.g. not worn a mask) for more than 15 minutes while in contact with other subjects. A close contact will need to quarantine at the hotel for seven (7) days. Quarantine will be lifted if no symptoms are shown after 7 days, no test is required.”
Here are Medvedev and Nadal at the end of Monday’s practice.
The testing protocol for players who are at the hotel is that after the initial test upon arrival, they will be tested again four days later.
It’s hard to know if they will test any players Medvedev has come into contact with earlier than that, out of an abundance of caution.
We do know that in recent weeks, the players – and, especially, the coaches – have gotten a lot more jaded about mask wearing.
And even if Tsitsipas was the only one officially nailed, players have been shimmying around the bubble restrictions.
Where did Medvedev get COVID-19?
It might be a challenge to figure out where Medvedev contracted the virus.
He’s been home from Miami for a week, and per his social media has gone to the Mouratoglou Academy near Nice to practice, commuting back and forth.
Monaco had two reported new cases on Monday (don’t know if that included Medvedev) and just one on the Sunday. Those are the weekend numbers, which are typically lower.
There isn’t a lot of virus there; the principality has had 112 cases in all over the last two weeks and have averaged about six new cases daily over the last week.
But it’s also a small place. The Monte Carlo Country Club, technically, is not in Monaco but in France.
The current protocol in Monaco is to mask up in public places and waiting in queues and anywhere indoors.
There’s a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Restaurants are only open for lunch, not dinner. Bars are closed. People are working from home, but businesses are open (respecting the curfew).
First week of “looser” protocols
Whether coincidence or not, Monte Carlo is the first tournament in which the ATP has loosened the restrictions surrounding the players.
Even Novak Djokovic, in his pre-tournament interview, took pains to refer to it as a “safe environment” and not a “bubble”.
The players are handshaking again, making contact again at the net. That’s true even of the ones who have been sticklers for the protocols.
It’s probably fine, of course – until it isn’t.
Is a Tour vax program in the cards?
Notable last week at the Volvo Car Open tournament in Charleston were the number of players who, upon elimination, went to get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
It was an option facilitated by the tournament.
And we’re told the ATP is definitely looking at it.
But there are challenges – notably that while the vaccine is very easy to get in the U.S., including the one-dose J&J jab.
Count Brit Daniel Evans as one who is keen to get vaccinated.
“I can’t talk on anyone else’s behalf. But it’s definitely in mind I’m very eager to get vaccinated, if I can. It would be heartbreaking if I tested positive for Wimbledon. It’s very important to stick to the protocols in place,” he said after an opening win in Monte Carlo.
“Yeah, if some people are being blasé, then it ruins it for everybody else because if one person tests positive, this virus, it can go round very quickly. So seeing scenes in England yesterday, I won’t be socializing any time soon.”
(On Tuesday, the U.S. paused the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine the players in Charleston took, noting a small number of blood clot issues, all with women between the ages of 18 and 48).
In many U.S. states, people as young at 16 can receive it. But the situation is far more complicated in Europe in terms of availability.
And, with a two-dose vaccine, there’s the matter of where the players are, when that time comes.
There is also the matter of the tricky political navigation around the whole vaccine issue.
But there are major joint events coming up in Madrid, Rome and then Roland Garros. Those are all countries that … aren’t doing that great against the virus and its variants at the moment.
So a positive test from the world No. 2, at a high-profile event, will only bring the issue to the fore even more.