The US Open extended an already divisive on Saturday, with officials mysteriously withdrawing top seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos from their scheduled second-round match.
The current Australian Open champions also won Roland Garros last season and the 2018 Aussie,
Mladenovic is one of the infamous “Paire 11” players who had some fleeting contact with the French ATP player who tested positive a week ago for COVID-19.
The group were put under special quarantine, allowed out of their hotel rooms only to travel to the site and play matches.
The latest arbitrary move by tennis bosses at Flushing Meadows – with either the New York City of state government actually issuing the orders – threatens to heap more embarrassment on the no-fan, quarantined ghost of a Grand Slam.
Mladenovic has been particularly affected by the harsh tournament treatment, complaining on social media about feeling like a “prisoner” – an unusual position for normally pampered tennis players who travel the world for their sport.
She and Babos were to have played for a place in the doubles quarter-final against Canadian Gabri Dabrowski and Alison Riske of the US.
Less than 24 hours earlier, France’s Adriano Mannarino – another “Paire 11” member – was finally allowed onto court for his third-round singles match with Alexander Zverev – a move which extraordinarily required approval from New York governor Andrew Cuomo under obscure virus rules.
The USTA was quick to issue a statement, which shifted the blame for the enforced pullout straight onto local politicians amid reports of the usual feuding between NYC and state bureaucrats.
“Public health officials of Nassau County, N.Y., have issued quarantine notices for all individuals who had prolonged close contact with a person who previously tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“As the players are staying in Nassau County, the quarantine notices prevent any of these individuals from commuting to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.
“The USTA is obligated to adhere to government guidance at the State, City and County level.
“All persons who were identified as having prolonged close contact with the infected player will quarantine in their rooms for the remainder of their quarantine period.
“Kristina Mladenovic is one of these individuals, and as the Women’s Doubles competition has begun, the women’s doubles team of Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos has been withdrawn from the US Open.”
Mladenovic had previously lashed out at her plight at the event.
““I have the impression we are prisoners or criminals,” she said after losing the the second round while holding match points in the second set.
“For even the slightest movement, we have to ask permission even though we are tested every day and had 37 negatives. It’s abominable. The conditions are atrocious.”