Australian Open qualifier receives positive Covid test result mid-match

In what has to be a first since the pandemic began, a qualifying match for the 2021 Australian Open was halted to inform a player that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

American Denis Kudla was facing Moroccan Elliot Benchetrit in the Australian Open qualifying event in Doha, and was up a set and 5-3 in the second set. This was when Kudla's positive test result came through, and the World No.114 was informed of his predicament.

According to Benchetrit, they were told they had to finish the game in progress. This led to Kudla serving out the match, emerging with a 6-4 6-3 victory. However, had the Moroccan won the final game to extend the match, then it would have been declared a walkover in his favor.

“At 5-3, they got the result. So to sum up: if I’d won that game at 5-3 to make it 5-4, I’d have qualified for the second round,” Benchetrit said on Instagram.

The positive test result for Kudla meant Australian Dane Sweeny, who was to face the American in his second match, advanced straight to the final round of qualifying.

However, Benchetrit stated that players were bizarrely allowed to play before getting their test results, which were taking longer than expected.

“The concept of a test is to have the information up front, to not put the linespeople, the opponent or, quite simply, everyone the person might meet before or after their match, in danger,” he added.

“There also are lucky losers who are waiting for a forfeit to be able to play, who travelled there for nothing. The draw is compromised; there will be a player in the third round of qualifications having played just one match. That’s also the problem.”

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