Star tipped for Wimbledon glory pulls out with Covid
Last year's Wimbledon runner-up, Matteo Berrettini, has confirmed his withdrawal from the Grand Slam on social media after testing positive for Covid-19.
The Italian was due to play Chile's Cristian Garin on Tuesday afternoon, but took to social media to tell disappointed fans that he would not be lining up.
Posting a black and white photo of himself in action at SW19, Berrettini said he was heartbroken to announce his withdrawal from Wimbledon due to a positive Covid test result.
"I have had flu symptoms and [have] been isolating the last few days," the 26-year-old said.
"Despite symptoms not being severe, I decided it was important to take another test thing morning to protect the health and safety of my fellow competitors and everyone else involved in the tournament.
Berrettini said there were "no words" to describe his extreme disappointment.
"The dream is over for this year, but I will be back stronger," he vowed, while thanking his 1.4 million followers for their support.
The news follows the withdrawal of Croatian star Marin Cilic, who was also forced out due to a Covid infection.
Berrettini had previously been named by world number one Daniil Medvedev, who is also absent due to the tournament's ban on Russian players, as one of his three favorites to win Wimbledon.
With a 9-0 record on grass in 2022, Berrettini had the form to match such predictions and expectations, and also claimed both the Stuttgart Open and the Queen's Club Championship which is often viewed as a warm-up to Wimbledon.
Speaking to The Guardian at the weekend, Berrettini fancied his chances in southwest London too.
"It sounds crazy but at the same time I know I can do it. It would mean a lot and it would mean for sure the highest moment of my career and my life," he told the British newspaper.
Yet Berrettini's withdrawal will fuel fears of a Covid outbreak at the competition already tarnished by its lack of ranking points after the ATP and WTA men's and women's tours decided to strip them from Wimbledon as a response to the Russians ban.
Due to the ban on Russians which also affects world number eight Andrey Rublev, plus Covid withdrawals and injury to world number two Alexander Zverev, Wimbledon now has 40% of the current world's top 10 male stars absent from its courts.