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Tennis • Denis Kudla Gets A Positive Covid-19 Test Result During Match, Keeps Playing And Wins In Australian Open Qualifying

Denis Kulda

By Ricky Dimon

Australian Open qualifying is currently underway in Doha, Qatar.

And you thought the 2020 tennis season was a wild one.

That’s right; this year’s Australian Open will once again take place in Melbourne, albeit in February instead of January to give participants time to quarantine amidst coronavirus protocols. Qualifying, however, is being held 7,440 miles away.

Yes, things are getting crazy. And they got even crazier when first-round qualifying action continued on Monday. Rivaling and perhaps even exceeding the Adrian Mannarino U.S. Open snafu, Denis Kudla was notified of a positive Covid-19 test during his match against Elliott Benchetrit.

Preparing to serve for the match at 5-3 in the second set, Kudla was notified by a tournament official that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Somehow, though, the match was allowed to continue for one more game. It was announced that Kudla would get the win, of course, if he successfully served it out; the American would be forced to retire and Benchetrit would advance if the Frenchman managed to break. Kudla got the job done for a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

That leaves both players out of the event, as Benchetrit lost and Kudla was obviously forced to withdraw immediately thereafter. Australian wild card Dane Sweeny gets a walkover to the final round of qualifying.

“At 5-3 they got the result,” Benchetrit reflected, “so if I’d won that game at 5-3 to make it 5-4, I’d have qualified for the second round.

“Now we’re waiting to see if I’m considered a close contact or not. And if I am, it’s a double whammy–because I lost the match, played against a positive guy, and they didn’t get the result before the match. And on top of that, I’d have to stay a week in the room.”

Of course, it’s much tougher luck for Kudla–who would still be bidding for a spot in the Australian Open main draw had it not been for the positive test. Benchetrit, on the other hand, lost fair and square regardless of the coronavirus issue.

Whatever the case, the biggest loser here is the tournament itself.

Editors Note: Why do tennis tournaments have officials if all they seem to know is how to watch tennis and hold a (radio) • walkie – talkie…

Denis Kudla should have been done and out. Sorry but AO is pathetic that there wasn’t a  plan of how to handle the situation. (LJ)

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.