Pictures of a shirtless Alexander Zverev sunbaking when he was supposed to be on court for his second-round US Open match against Adrian Mannarino have sparked a bizarre coronavirus uproar.
The integrity of the tournament’s ‘bubble’ has already been called into question following Frenchman Benoit Paire’s positive test, with 11 players deemed to have been in contact with him allowed to remain in the bubble.
Mannnarino was one of those players, and neither he nor Zverev showed up for their scheduled match at 2:30pm local time.
Two hours of confusion followed, during which Zverev was seen in his hotel suite, before the match finally got underway.
There was still no clarity about the delay after the match started, with the US Tennis Association posting a short and vague statement shortly thereafter.
“The Zverev-Mannarino match was delayed with a collaborative dialogue with health officials was conducted today,” the USTA said.
“Communication with the players was ongoing during the afternoon to keep them updated at all times.
“Given the sensitivity of the medical issues involved, the USTA is not able to provide further details.”
A statement on the Zverev-Mannarino match: pic.twitter.com/ojLMAJaL8T— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 4, 2020
Zverev lifts lid on bizarre virus situation
The German star easily accounted for Mannarino 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2 6-2 once the match finally started, and lifted the lid on the situation afterwards.
Zverev said the confusion was the result of conversations between US Open officials and New York State health officials.
“I was told there is very little chance that we were going to play," Zverev said after the match.
“The New York State called and said he (Mannarino) shouldn't play.
Zverev scrolling through twitter for an update on his match with Mannarino. pic.twitter.com/HdgX8aWuKq— Michael Gallo (@Galloots) September 4, 2020
“So it was back and forth, back and forth ... it was political, not about us players.”
The debacle comes as players have become increasingly frustrated with conditions for the tournament.
Kristina ‘Kiki’ Mladenovic has let rip at the US Open after claiming the bubble conditions has made her feel like a ‘prisoner’ after a woeful collapse in her Second Round match.
On Tuesday, the tennis world was left demanding answers after players in contact with Benoit Paire had been granted the go ahead to compete in the US Open and remain in the bubble.
The Frenchman tested positive for COVID-19 and pulled out of the US Open, and alleged the bubble was ‘fake’.
But Mladenovic, who is seeded 30th in women’s singles, was one of the players that came in contact and was placed in a bubble ‘within a bubble’
“I would so much like to say a lot of things about what is going on here,” she said.
“It's absolutely abominable how they treat us, but I don't want that to be an excuse for my defeat.
“It is not the fault of the USTA if I did not convert my four match points.”