Zverev plays with fever and cough in French Open defeat

PARIS (Reuters) - German Alexander Zverev said he played with fever and breathing difficulties during his fourth-round French Open defeat to Italian teenager Jannik Sinner on Sunday, raising questions about the COVID-19 protocols at the claycourt Grand Slam.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - October 4, 2020. Germany's Alexander Zverev during his fourth round match against Italy's Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Zverev appeared to be in discomfort and was seen coughing on court during the match against Sinner and called for the doctor and trainer. He kept pointing at his throat and later took a pill.

The French tennis federation (FFT), who run the claycourt Grand Slam, told Reuters that Zverev was last tested for COVID-19 on Sept. 29 and the test returned a negative result the following day.

Zverev, 23, was up to date with his testing and was notified to undergo a routine test on Sunday, the day of his fourth round match, the organisers added.

Organisers said Zverev did not consult with the Roland Garros medical service before his match against Sinner.

Zverev said he had been ill since his third-round win against Italian Marco Cecchinato on Friday and had a body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius.

“It was nothing wrong but I am completely sick after the match with Cecchinato in the night. Yeah, what can I say? I’m completely sick,” said a masked Zverev during his virtual post-match news conference.

“I can’t really breathe, as you can hear by my voice. I had fever, you know, as well. It was 38. It was 38 in the night or in the evening.”

French government guidelines state that a person with COVID-19 symptoms - a body temperature above 38°C, a cough, sore throat, headache, muscle ache, loss of smell or taste - needs to isolate for seven days and immediately make an appointment for a test.

Zverev had declined to answer when he was last tested for the coronavirus at his post-match news conference.

The 23-year-old Zverev also played in Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour event in the Balkans where multiple players including the Serbian world number one contracted the virus. Zverev said he had tested negative.

“To be honest, I warmed up today. I shouldn’t have played,” Zverev said after losing 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-3 to Sinner.

Asked if he was concerned that he might get sick, 19-year-old Italian Sinner said: “He’s not positive or whatever. We have got tested quite many times, and obviously we were not that nearby.

“It’s like we always had the distance. I don’t think that I will have fever in the next days, or I hope so.”

Tournament organisers said that two players in the junior girls’ tournament had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been removed from the draw.

In total, approximately 3,000 tests have been carried out since Sept. 17, organisers said.

Reporting by Julien Pretot and Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Toby Davis