The Bosnian player Damir Dzumhur says that he plans to take the French Tennis Federation to court. Dzumhur was ejected from the French Open’s qualifying event this week because his coach tested positive for Covid-19. According to a report in L’Equipe, Dzumhur is particularly frustrated because his coach Petar Popovic had already contracted Covid in the summer and is thus still showing the remains of antibodies. On his return to Serbia this week, Popovic was tested again and came up negative. “It's a scandal and a huge frustration,” Dzumhur said. “I'm sure we'll win in court, but it hurts a lot.” The news comes on top of a rocky start to the French Open, which starts in earnest with the first round of the main-draw event on Sunday. Six players have already been withdrawn from this week’s qualifying event because of positive Covid tests. Behind the scenes, players and coaches have reported a less sophisticated operation than the one run by the United States Tennis Association in New York earlier this month. “Organisation wise, it is not at the same level,” said the American player Noah Rubin on his Behind the Racquet podcast. “The US Open has demolished them.” There are also informal reports of the French Tennis Federation (FFT) taking a high-handed approach to those who object to the way the qualifying event has been run. According to one source involved in qualifying: “Their general attitude is that they are doing the players a favour by staging the event at all.” While recording his podcast at the weekend, Rubin highlighted his concerns about the lack of an immediate quarantine for those arriving at Roland Garros. “You didn’t get a test as soon as you walked into the bubble,” he said. “Players showed up on Wednesday, actually hit on site that day, went out to dinner in Paris, then got a test on Thursday. That just doesn’t make that much sense to me.” “It’s not a bubble at all,” added Rubin, who explained that he had not played a warm-up tournament in order to arrive at Roland Garros in good time. “We know how long it takes for Covid to get into someone’s system or to test positive at times. For some players to come maybe less than 48 hours before their first match, you’re rolling the dice.” Earlier this month, the US Open created much ill-feeling among a group of players – the so-called “Paire 11” – who were confined to their rooms in New York after spending time with the French player Benoit Paire, who then tested positive. Those worst affected were probably Kristina Mladenovic and her partner Timea Babos – the top seeds in the women’s doubles – who were ordered to remain in their hotel in Long Island by public health officials, and thus had to concede their second-round match without taking the court. But while individuals may have suffered, there were no further positive tests, and the event was widely perceived as a success.
Organisers of the Italian Open and the tennis Tours came under fire on social media after it emerged that Rome men's champion Novak Djokovic took home €10 more in prize money than women's winner Simona Halep. Djokovic, who beat Argentine Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3 for a record 36th ATP Masters 1,000 crown, received €205,200 for his triumph while Halep won €10 less for sealing the WTA Premier 5 title after Karolina Pliskova retired from the final with injury while trailing 6-0, 2-1. But even as tennis' biggest events — the Grand Slams — have pushed for parity in prize money for winners, some fans online vented their ire that while Halep's prize came close to that of Djokovic, it frustratingly fell short. The issue generated plenty of discussion on social media, with some individuals pointing out the "pathetic" difference. "People who made a pay gap in cents are misogynists. Period," one individual said on Twitter. "I almost feel like — if they so badly need those 10 euros to feel better about their manhood — hell's bells give it to 'em," another said. Organisers of the tournament as well as the men's ATP Tour and women's WTA Tour did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last year, Rafael Nadal took home €958,055 euros as the men's winner in Rome, almost double the prize money given to women's winner Pliskova. The financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic had reduced the overall prize pot of the men's event to around €3.47 million while the women's fund was around €1.69m. ATP Masters 1,000 events are the biggest on the men's Tour after the Grand Slams and the season-ending ATP Finals, while Premier 5 events are lower than Premier Mandatory tournaments and the WTA Finals.
Halep won the Dubai title before the WTA Tour's suspension in March and lifted the Prague crown on its resumption, before claiming another crown in Rome on Monday to emerge as the front runner for the French Open Grand Slam, which begins on Sunday. Halep, 28, said her first Rome title, which she won when Karolina Pliskova retired due to injury, was the culmination of a dream she had since 2013, though she was a much different person now.