Japan’s Davis Cup team will face a double blow during the weekend World Group qualifying tie with Ecuador thanks to the coronavirus drama playing out around the globe.
Not only will the weekend be played without spectators in Miki, near Kyoto in the south of the island nation, but national No. 2 Yoshihito Nishioka – injured Kei Nishikori has not played since the US Open – will not risk travelling from his base in the US in case he is not allowed back into the country.
That seems to be too much of a gamble with the Indian Wells Masters starting next week, to be followed by Miami.
Nishikori told the Davis Cup website that he is hoping to play against either in late March or the April start of the European clay season.
“It’ll be weird without fans here, I’m sure the players will feel something different.
“When you have a lot of people watching, you automatically focus, so the team will have to support each other more than usual.”
Countries are bidding this weekend to reach the finals of the international team competition 23-29 November in Madrid. Already into the concluding week: 2014
19 semi-finalists -Spain, Russia, Britain and Canada and wildcards France and Serbia.
Italy, another hotspot for the burgeoning infection, will have to play without an audience in Cagliarii, Sardinia, against South Korea, which has the most virus cases (more than 6,000) outside of China (80,000-plus).
Italy’s Fabio Fognini accepts that something drastic had to change in order to get the matches on court.
“It’s the worst thing – the situation that they have to make the decision we have to play with no public,” the Monte Carlo champion said.
“It’s bad, but I think it’s safer for us players, for the people involved because they sold 3,500 tickets. I think it’s the best solution at the moment.’
The Japanese tie is being played in a country where all schools are closed to try and prevent spread of the illness and sporting events are considered expendable in the current situation.
All sporting events in will be behind closed doors in Italy through April 3.
‘This is everyone’s first experience of a tie without fans and I don’t know what will happen after we start. Still, many people will be watching on TV and we know there’s a lot of fans behind us anyway.’
the Japanese captain, said.