“Should I scrap this season and hope that things get better?” ATP stalwart reveals Covid stress
While professional players are grateful for the opportunity to play tennis anywhere during Covid, life can be far from easy. International travel is complicated, as is moving from one bio-secure bubble to another, and regular Covid tests have become a way of life.
Adrian Mannarino outlined the sort of stress players are under when he described the previous 72 hours following his first-round victory over Dusan Lajovic at the Paris Masters on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Frenchman had played the previous week at the Astana Open in Kazakhstan, where he was beaten in Sunday’s final by John Millman. He boarded a flight from Kazakhstan at 4am that night and after a stop-over in Russia did not arrive in Paris until late on Monday morning.
On reaching his hotel in the French capital, Mannarino had to take a Covid test, which all players must pass before being admitted to tournament venues. The world No 36 did not receive his negative result until 11.30pm on Monday evening, meaning he could not seek treatment for foot blisters which had troubled him in Kazakhstan until the following day, when he also had to play his first-round match. Remarkably enough, Mannarino won it, beating Lajovic in straight sets.
“Mentally it’s extremely tiring,” Mannarino said afterwards. “Journeys are very complicated. There are fewer flights than there were before. You always need to have on you evidence that you’ve had a negative test in the last 48 or 72 hours. To go to somewhere like Kazakhstan you spend a lot more time in planes and at airports, so you’re at more risk of catching the virus.
“If your coach or your physical trainer or your physio test positive, you are automatically withdrawn from the tournament. You just never know what to expect, so you always feel a bit on edge.”
He added: “I think the best way to cope is to tell yourself that if you can play a tournament and win some matches, it’s a bonus. But you should never have any expectations with regard to any tournaments or any results, because that would just put more pressure on yourself.”
Nearly all tournaments have had to reduce prize money because of the drop in their income without spectators and Mannarino feels particular sympathy for doubles players, who earn less than singles players anyway.
“Sometimes they will be going to tournaments and making a loss,” he said.” They have to ask themselves: should I play when it’s like this? Or should I scrap this season and hope that things will be better in the coming months? And if you don’t play you can be sure that others will – and will move ahead of you in the rankings.”
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