Wimbledon woke up that Tuesday the same way he went to bed: with a jolt. The night before the opening day closed, the great Briton’s organization announced the withdrawal of Marin Cilic after the Croatian tested positive for Covid, and just an hour later the tournament announced the withdrawal of Matteo Berrettini for the same reason . That said, Rafael Nadal’s theoretical track time is erased as the names of both were on the horizon of the Spanish tennis player who is set to debut today (around 4pm, Movistar Deportes) against Argentina’s Francisco Cerúndolo.
“I have had some flu symptoms and have been isolating for the past few days. Although they weren’t meant to be serious, I decided to take a test this morning to protect the health of the rest of the players and tournament staff. I have no words to describe how disappointed I feel. This year’s dream is over, but I will come back stronger,” said the Italian, who was on the list of favourites. Before landing on the Main English, Berrettini had won at Stuttgart and Queen’s, last year he reached the Wimbledon final.
The Roman, 26 years old and seeded eighth, seemed a full-fledged threat to Nadal, with whom he met on the pitch in a historical episode on 23rd, as he had never trained at La Catedral before the tournament started. As of 2019, his tally on the green is 31 wins and just 3 losses and he has established himself as a fierce contender on the big stages. On paper and always hypothetical, he could have been the Spaniard’s rival in the semis.
His departure follows that of Cilic, whose positive result was announced the night before. The Croatian, 33 years old and 17th in the world, could have crossed paths with Nadal as well; in his case in the round of 16. 2014 US Open winner and 2017 Wimbledon finalist, his serve and ability on the surface also meant a potential threat for the Spaniard, who is looking to conquer his 23rd major in London. His withdrawal also raised concerns as he had been training with Serbian Novak Djokovic just days before.