Wimbledon first suffered from Covid-19 on Monday night when former finalist Marin Cilic, who last week trained with reigning champion Novak Djokovicwas forced to leave the tournament.
The former US Open champion from Croatia could potentially play Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals and was photographed playing center court with Djokovic last Thursday.
Wimbledon was canceled entirely due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and only returned last year under strict protocols. As is the case with most sporting events, these protocols have been significantly relaxed this year despite an increase in Covid infections in England over the past month.
Cilic reached the Wimbledon final in 2017, losing in straight sets to Roger Federer, and confirmed on Instagram that he had Covid-19. In an earlier statement from the All England Club, the 33-year-old’s departure was simply explained as “illness”.
“Hey guys, I’m sad to report that I tested positive for COVID,” Cilic said, adding that he was “heartbroken” to see his grass season ended due to illness.
“I self-isolated and hoped I would be ready, but unfortunately I still don’t feel well and can’t compete at my best.”
Cilic, who was seeded 14th, was considered a strong outside bet after reaching the semi-finals of the French Open as well as reaching the last four ATP 500 events on grass at Queen’s this month.
Cilic will be replaced by Nuno Borges. His departure is a big boost for Nadal, who has won the first two Grand Slams of the season and has overtaken Djokovic and Federer on the top of the list.
Djokovic was forced to miss the entire Australian Open. earlier this year when he was abruptly quarantined following Covid-19 protests due to his medical exemption from competing.