NEW YORK – For all of the obvious concessions to the coronavirus at the no-fans-allowed U.S. Open — near-empty arenas; silence pierced by the occasional clap, sneaker squeak or roaring jet; a lack of line judges — the aftereffects of one player's positive test caused the biggest stir on Day 1.
Yes, plenty of matches were played amid a pandemic at the first Grand Slam tournament in nearly seven full months.
And, yes, first-round matches were lost — by 16-year-old Coco Gauff among the women, and No. 9 seed Diego Schwartzman among the men. And won — by No. 1 seed Karolina Pliskova, 2018 champion Naomi Osaka and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber among the women, and No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 5 Alexander Zverev among the men.
But Monday was significant for introducing terms to the tennis lexicon such as “bubble in the bubble” and “fake bubble." That's because seven players were allowed to stay in the tournament while placed under additional restrictions on their movement and subjected to daily COVID-19 testing after coming in contact with Benoit Paire, the Frenchman dropped from the U.S. Open after testing positive for the coronavirus, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The players were not identified to the AP by the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the U.S. Tennis Association did not announce the names of anyone involved.
But three players from France acknowledged their involvement: Kristina Mladenovic, who is seeded 30th in women's singles; Adrian Mannarino, seeded 32nd in men's singles; and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who is entered in men's doubles.
Mladenovic and Mannarino spoke about the situation after wins Monday, saying they were part of a group that played cards with Paire. Both said it was tough to focus on court.
“I'm kind of exhausted mentally, but I'm still really happy to be able to play,” said Mannarino, who will face Jack Sock of the United States in the second round. “I need to enjoy it as much as I can.”