US Open: Azarenka calls for mandatory player vaccinations amid 'bizarre' double standards

By Sports Desk September 01, 2021

Two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka says it is "bizarre" that fans need to be vaccinated to attend the US Open but not the players.

The 2021 US Open marks the first tennis tournament where fans must show their proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to attend matches inside the Flushing Meadows venue. The decision was made less than 72 hours prior to the first matches at the US Open.

Azarenka, who defeated Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-3 7-6 (7-1) in the second round on Wednesday, said there was a double standard applied for fans compared to players who are not required to be vaccinated to play.

"I want to start this conversation between our players, because to me that's a bit bizarre that fans have to be vaccinated and players are not," three-time US Open finalist Azarenka told reporters.

"I think it's inevitable that it will be mandated at some point, like other leagues are doing.

"I don't see the point of stalling it, because I think we all want to be safe, we all want to continue doing our jobs, and I know there is a lot of discussions about it."

She added: "I hope that as an association we make the best decision for our business, for our health, for the tournaments and for the public."

On Saturday, Briton Andy Murray voiced his opinion that players need to be vaccinated, saying it is their responsibility as they travel the world to play.

Numerous top players including Novak Djokovic, Stefano Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev have previously spoken about their concerns about getting vaccinated.

Medvedev would not be drawn on Azarenka's comments after he defeated Dominik Koepfer 6-4 6-1 6-2 in the second round on Wednesday.

"Tough to answer this question," Medvedev told reporters. "I think everybody can have his own opinion.

"I understand why they did it to the fans. So far it has not been applied to the players. We as players, we can just follow the guidelines and the rules. That's all we can do.

"I think it's not for players to decide, because that's why we have governing bodies in tennis."

Related items

  • Alcaraz turns focus to Queen's and Wimbledon after French Open glory Alcaraz turns focus to Queen's and Wimbledon after French Open glory

    Carlos Alcaraz is not wanting to dwell on his French Open triumph as the Spaniard prepares for Wimbledon by featuring at the Queen's Club Championships this week.

    The 21-year-old secured his third major title this month after overcoming Alexander Zverev in a five-set final thriller at Roland-Garros.

    Alcaraz is the youngest player in the Open Era to win the singles title at three different grand slams, with the Australian Open the only one missing from the set.

    The world number two has one thing on his mind, however, as Alcaraz turns his focus to the grass-court challenge awaiting at Queen's, and subsequently the next major Wimbledon.

    "We have to be focused on the tournament that we are playing right now," Alcaraz said. "Roland-Garros was a fantastic two weeks for me, a dream come true lifting the trophy.

    "But right now my mind has to be here on the grass to be ready. As soon as I can to play good tennis and to get ready for Wimbledon.

    "Right now my focus is on the grass and then after that, my mind will be on clay again to be at my best for the Olympics."

    Just a year ago, Alcaraz headed to Queen's with only four ATP wins on grass.

    A year later, the big-hitting youngster is getting ready to defend his title in the Wimbledon warm-up tournament before attempting to go back-to-back at the next major.

    "I have more matches in my bank on grass and now with the great run I had last year at Queen's and Wimbledon, I know a little bit on how to play and understand the game a little bit on grass," he added.

    "I am more mature playing on this surface. The first practice I have done here, my movement wasn't as good as last year but it is a slow process, so I have to be really focused in every practice and every match."

    Alcaraz took the fewest main draw appearances of any player in the Open Era to win titles on grass, clay and hard courts.

    He celebrated that French Open glory with a tattoo of Paris' Eiffel Tower on his left ankle, before jetting off for further toasts to his success.

    Asked on his plans after Paris, Alcaraz said: "I had a few days off. I went to Ibiza with a group of friends. I had fun. It was a great time celebrating Roland Garros and I just had fun.

    "For me as a player, I need this kind of thing. Every player is different but for me to reach my best tennis I have to separate the professional part from the personal part.

    "I have some days off to forget a little bit that I am a professional player. Being with my friends and family means I can rest a little bit."

  • Sabalenka confirms she will not compete at Paris Olympics Sabalenka confirms she will not compete at Paris Olympics

    Aryna Sabalenka has confirmed she will not compete at the Olympic Games in Paris next month in order to prioritise her health. 

    The world number three retained her Australian Open title at the start of the year but suffered defeat in the quarter-finals of the French Open at Roland-Garros.

    The Belarusian's loss was her first before the semi-final stage of a major tournament since 2022, and she intends to rest ahead of the for the hard-court season which begins at the US Open 22 games after the Olympics. 

    "I prefer to have a little rest to make sure physically and health-wise I'm ready for the hard courts," said Sabalenka, who was the runner-up last year in New York. 

    "Especially with all the struggles I've been struggling with the last months, I feel I have to take care of my health.

    "It's too much for the scheduling and I made the decision to take care of my health."

    Sabalenka is currently in Germany preparing for the Berlin Open, and faces Daria Kasatkina in the last 16 of the competition, having come from a set down to beat Marta Kostyuk on Monday. 

  • Medvedev survives early scare to beat Borges at Halle Open Medvedev survives early scare to beat Borges at Halle Open

    Daniil Medvedev secured his spot in the next round of the Halle Open after fending off a valiant Nuno Borges in straight sets.

    The world number five prevailed 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 on Monday to bounce back from his round-of-16 exit to Alex de Minaur at Roland-Garros.

    Medvedev found himself behind early on as Borges won an early break point, but the Russian roared back to win the tiebreak 7-4.

    Borges continued to match his opponent in the second set, but the former world number one showcased his endurance and class, finishing the contest in style to secure his place in the round of 16. 

    Medvedev will now face Zhizhen Zhang after his win over Sebastian Ofner earlier in the day. 

    Data Debrief: Med goes two for two

    This duo first met at this year's Australian Open, with Medvedev winning on that occasion too.

    It was a tight encounter this time around, as Medvedev was forced to save five break points, while also striking nine aces, but he made it two straight wins against Borges.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.