Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard has opened up on how he experienced depression during the coronavirus lockdown.

The France international explained in an interview with newspaper Le Parisien that isolation became a heavy burden and he sorely missed normal social contact.

Pavard, now 26, was in his first season with Bayern when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, having joined from Bundesliga rivals Stuttgart.

When players went into isolation in late March of 2020, Pavard said it became a challenge to stay positive.

He said: "It was difficult for everyone, for me too. To be alone, in a country other than mine, I was really not well. In my head, something was wrong.

"At the beginning, you tell yourself that it's nothing, that it will pass, but when you see that it persists, that you go to training and that you don't have a smile on your face, you have to react."

The Bundesliga became the first major league in Europe to resume, as it started up again in mid-May 2020, albeit behind closed doors.

Pavard sought and found support to help him through the trying times.

He said: "I am human like everyone else, and even if I have a super nice house with a weight room, I needed contact with others.

"I got up, I had no appetite. I tried to keep busy, to cook, to watch series. But Netflix is ​​fine for two minutes… I don't like the word depressive, but that was the case."

The former Lille player explained that he turned a corner and now feels "much better".

“I came out of all this as a man, it changed me," he said. "I was on my own like many football players and I had to surround myself well to raise my head. I managed to bounce back from difficult times."

Germany boss Hansi Flick has told his players to be cautious about socialising ahead of the World Cup to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and missing games.

Midfielder Leon Goretzka and captain Manuel Neuer have been ruled out of the Nations League games against Hungary and England after testing positive.

Those results followed their visit, as members of the Bayern Munich squad, to Oktoberfest celebrations last weekend.

It is unclear whether that was where the players caught the coronavirus, but social occasions give Flick cause for concern, albeit he is adamant that "life should also go on".

The Qatar 2022 World Cup is coming up in November and December, and Flick wants everyone available.

"This can also affect us in Qatar," said Flick. "We have to react to it and deal with the situation as best we can.

"It's not quite as easy as [saying] you should behave. We in the coaching team are also on the road a lot. Such cases are always annoying, but it's also become a normal situation.

"With a normal flu you also miss out. Covid is of course a bit more aggressive. Of course you have to reduce your contacts a little before the World Cup and consider, should I go there or not.

"You're on the road a lot. Life should also go on. We have to see that we keep it under control. But a certain normality with common sense, I think, is the right way."

Germany play Hungary on Friday and England on Monday, and Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen will get a chance to impress in the Hungary game in the absence of Neuer.

"I don't need to keep a secret about the goalkeeper position, Marc will be in goal," Flick said in Thursday's press conference.

Novak Djokovic will play no part in the US Open, the second grand slam he will have missed this year because of his stance on refusing a COVID-19 vaccination.

The Wimbledon champion announced on Thursday, shortly before the draw in New York, that he would not be making the trip to Flushing Meadows.

He posted on social media: "Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open."

The 35-year-old Serbian, who has won 21 grand slam titles, added: "Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!"

Djokovic, who lost to Daniil Medvedev in last year's final in New York, had his route to the United States blocked by red tape this time around.

US authorities are refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country. Djokovic, a three-time US Open winner, has been steadfast on his position regarding the vaccine.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding coronavirus protocols, despite including Djokovic on the US Open entry list last month.

However, he had first to be allowed to enter the country before he could consider competing, and that was out of the USTA's hands.

In late July, Djokovic said he was "preparing as if I will be allowed to compete"; however, he was unable to travel for the build-up tournaments, and now he will miss the major too.

"Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support," he told his fans on Thursday.

Djokovic was not allowed to play at the Australian Open at the start of the year, when issues surrounding his visa ended with him being deported from Melbourne on public health grounds due to not taking the vaccine.

American great John McEnroe said it was "a joke" that Djokovic should have to miss the US Open too, and called for a solution to be found, but that has not come about.

The current entry rules for international travellers to the United States were not in place when Djokovic was toppled by Medvedev in last year's men's singles final, the result that ended his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam.

The clock is ticking on Novak Djokovic's prospects of playing at the US Open, two days out from the draw at Flushing Meadows.

Wimbledon champion Djokovic, who lost to Daniil Medvedev in last year's final in New York, has his route to the United States blocked by red tape at present.

US authorities are refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country, and barring a change of policy on that front, his hopes appear forlorn. Djokovic, a three-time US Open champion, has refused to accept any COVID-19 vaccine.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding coronavirus protocols, despite including Djokovic on the US Open entry list last month.

He remains on that list for now, but there was an indication that the US Open may not be expecting to see Djokovic when a promotional poster was revealed this week that featured four top women players and four leading men.

The men selected were defending champion Medvedev, 22-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal, Australian Nick Kyrgios and Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz. All were archive pictures, so Djokovic could easily have been selected for the advertising campaign.

His exclusion prompted an angry response on social media from some fans of the 35-year-old Serbian, with one saying it would be "a failed tournament if he doesn't participate in it".

The US Open draws are due to take place on Thursday ahead of the start of the tournament on Monday.

Leading players are already assembling on site, with Medvedev, Serena Williams, Nadal, Alcaraz, Simona Halep and Andy Murray among those with practice sessions booked in for Tuesday.

For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a sudden change of entry rules from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

In late July, he said he was "preparing as if I will be allowed to compete"; however, he has not been able to travel for the build-up tournaments.

On Instagram, Djokovic's last tennis-related post came on Monday night as he sent a congratulatory message to shock Cincinnati champion Borna Coric, telling the Croatian: "Bravo king! Totally deserved. All the effort and patience paid off. Go ahead and good luck."

Djokovic was not allowed to play at the Australian Open at the start of the year, when issues surrounding his visa ended with him being deported from Melbourne on public health grounds due to not taking the vaccine.

American great John McEnroe told Tennis 365 in July it was "crazy" that Djokovic should have to miss the US Open and called for a solution to be found.

The current entry rules in the United States were not in place when Djokovic was toppled by Medvedev in last year's men's singles final, ending his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam.

Taylor Fritz believes there would be no "harm" in Novak Djokovic competing at the US Open, although the American admits he is conflicted about whether he should be allowed.

Wimbledon champion Djokovic has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding COVID-19 protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors. 

And Fritz, ranked 13th in the world, said that while the situation is complicated, there is part of him that thinks Djokovic should be allowed to take part in the competition that starts in under a fortnight.

"It's tough," he said. "I think on one side of it, I think it's tough to make certain exceptions to the rules for certain people.

"I don't know how I feel about that, but then, at the same time, we're not the most COVID-safe country in general with how we are doing things.

"So it does seem like, what's the harm of letting the best player in the world come play the US Open?

"But like I said, at the same time, it's conflicting, because I don't know how I feel about making special exceptions just for one person because of who they are.

"So I see both sides of the argument, to be honest. It's tough to differentiate, obviously. It's good for every player if Novak is not in the draw."

Chris Froome was "pretty heavily" affected by coronavirus and his preparations for the Vuelta a Espana have been disrupted as a result.

Froome competed at his 10th Tour de France in July but was forced to abandon the race after stage 17 when he tested positive for COVID-19.

The Israel-Premier Tech rider sat 26th overall, having achieved his best Tour stage result since 2018 when he finished third on stage 12 up the Alpe d'Huez.

Froome is a seven-time Grand Tour champion but has never been able to recover his peak performance since a crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine, which left him in intensive care.

The 37-year-old now heads to Spain, where he won his first Grand Tour general classification jersey in 2011 but has revealed it has taken longer than he expected to recover from coronavirus.

Froome said in a press conference: "I felt as if I was coming into really good shape, certainly in the second and third week [of the Tour de France].

"So it was unfortunate to leave before the end of the race and not make it to Paris. But I think I was one of many who unfortunately got COVID.

"Unfortunately, it did affect me pretty heavily. I was symptomatic, probably for about 10 days. Then even after starting training, again, I was still really, really struggling to get the hard training done.

 

"I also had to follow the advice of the medical team, which was to not try and push it. I think a lot of people with COVID had made the mistake to try and start too early again. So it really did disrupt I guess my preparations for the Vuelta.

"I was really hoping to finish the Tour and then build on that condition almost immediately afterwards to get into the Vuelta. But unfortunately, with COVID, I wasn't able to do a lot of that work.

"Having said that, I have had a good past 10 days of training now. I'm a little bit unsure of where I'm at. I'm hoping just to survive the first week the best I can and look to really build into the race."

Froome has won the Vuelta twice, following up his success in 2011 with a triumph in 2017.

"The Vuelta is a really special race for me," he said. "The Vuelta is a race where back in 2011 I really had my breakthrough as a Grand Tour contender.

"It's a race where I love what the Vuelta tests in people. If you look at the GC battle of the Vuelta, it's brutal. Normally many more uphill finishes, many more mountain stages than other Grand Tours. It's a race that I've always enjoyed."

Novak Djokovic hopes he could still be allowed to play at the US Open despite refusing a coronavirus vaccination.

The 35-year-old Wimbledon champion has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding coronavirus protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

Djokovic said in a statement on Saturday: "I am preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to US. Fingers crossed!"

With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors.

Djokovic was not allowed to play in Australia, where issues surrounding his visa ended with him being deported from Melbourne on public health grounds due to not taking the vaccine.

The three-time US Open winner senses a pull of public support for his situation, as he insists he will not consider receiving a vaccine.

In his message on Saturday, Djokovic said: "I just wanted to take a moment and say to all of you how grateful I am to see so many messages of support and love from all around the world these days.

"I wasn't expecting it, and that's why it feels so mindblowing. Just wanted to say THANK YOU.

"It feels special that people connect with my tennis career in such a loving and supportive way and wish for me to continue to compete."

He has found backing from John McEnroe, the American tennis great, who told Tennis 365 in July: "I hope someone finds a way to sort this out. It's crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage."

Djokovic lost to Daniil Medvedev in last year's men's singles final in New York, when the current entry rules were not in place.

Senator Marsha Blackburn also spoke out, saying last week that it was "absurd that Novak Djokovic is not allowed to enter the USA".

The St Louis Cardinals will not have All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado available to play in Toronto this week as they have not received the COVID-19 vaccination.

Canada requires all travellers to the country to be fully vaccinated, so Goldschmidt and Arenado will miss the Cardinals' two games against the Blue Jays on Tuesday and Wednesday, as confirmed by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak to reporters on Sunday.

St Louis entered Sunday's MLB action trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by 1.5 games for first place in the NL Central, and with a one-game lead on the Philadelphia Phillies for the third and final wild-card berth in the NL.

Goldschmidt and Arenado have played a major part in that success.

Goldschmidt is batting .333 with 22 home runs and 74 RBIs in 92 games, while Arenado is hitting .299 with 18 homers and 59 RBIs in 90 contests.

They were both selected to their seventh All-Star Game this season. Goldschmidt homered in the NL's 3-2 loss to the AL last Tuesday, but Arenado sat the game out due to tightness in his lower back.

The men's tennis tour has scrapped plans to stage four tournaments in China later this year as the pandemic continues to take its toll on the sporting calendar.

Mandatory quarantine rules make it unfeasible for international players and tour officials to travel to the events, including the Shanghai Masters, a top-tier ATP 1000 tournament.

The lucrative Shanghai event had been due to run from October 9-16 and would have featured many of the world's top players.

Also cancelled are the Chengdu Open and the Zhuhai Championships, which were scheduled to begin on September 26, and the China Open, billed for the following week.

The ATP said it had cancelled the three-week China swing "due to ongoing restrictions related to COVID-19".

It marks a third successive year in which the run of tournaments has had to be cancelled, with China last hosting ATP events in 2019, before the pandemic hit.

At the same time as it cancelled the tournaments in China on Thursday, the ATP made provision for its players to keep earning by announcing six new events to take place in September and October.

Those events will be played in San Diego, Seoul, Tel Aviv, Florence, Gijon and Naples, the ATP said, with all at ATP 250 level, the lowest rung of the main tour.

The WTA, which runs the women's tour, announced last December it would be suspending all its tournaments in China due to concerns over the wellbeing of Peng Shuai, a professional tennis player who appeared to allege she had been sexually assaulted by a powerful former government official.

Former doubles world number one Peng has since denied making the accusations, yet the WTA has remained concerned for her safety and freedom.

Chris Froome was forced to abandon the Tour de France on Thursday as the four-time champion tested positive for COVID-19.

The British rider sat 26th overall after Wednesday's stage 17, having spent over 69 hours on the road for the Israel Premier-Tech team.

The 37-year-old achieved his best Tour stage result since 2018 when he finished third on stage 12 up the Alpe d'Huez.

After a huge crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine, Froome was left in intensive care with multiple serious injuries. He looked nailed on for his best general classification result in a Grand Tour since then as the riders edged closer to the finish in Paris this Sunday.

However, in a video message posted on his Twitter page, Froome said he had received "pretty disappointing news".

"A test has revealed that I've contracted COVID, so I'm not going to be taking the start today," he said.

"I'm really disappointed not to be able to roll into Paris and finish off this Tour de France. It's been an extremely special race for us as a team and me personally as well. I've been finding my legs again.

"I'm going to head home now, switch off for a few days, and refocus on being ready for the Vuelta a Espana later this season."

The Vuelta begins in the Netherlands on August 19, with a time-trial opener in Utrecht, before taking place in Spain from stage four onwards.

Novak Djokovic must be allowed to play at the US Open because a ban over his COVID-19 vaccination refusal would be "crazy", according to John McEnroe.

The Serbian won his seventh Wimbledon title this month, but the All England Club event was just his second major of the year after missing the Australian Open in January.

Djokovic was not permitted to play in the opening major of 2022, where issues surrounding his visa ended with him being deported from Melbourne on public health grounds due to not taking the vaccine.

The 35-year-old hopes to compete at Flushing Meadows in August but has insisted he will not take the vaccination, while the United States is refusing to allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country.

The USTA confirmed it would adhere to US rulings surrounding coronavirus protocols, despite including Djokovic on the entry list for the final slam of the year on Wednesday.

Seven-time major champion McEnroe has previously suggested Djokovic should be allowed to compete and reiterated his calls for the 21-time slam winner to be exempt from vaccination regulations.

 "I mean, we have to find a way to get Novak into the US Open," McEnroe told Tennis365.

"How can he not be there? He has just won Wimbledon, he is a great champion and he should be in the US Open.

"I don't agree with his decision not to get vaccinated, but I respect it. He is one of the fittest guys in the world and everything he puts into his body, he is watching carefully.

"Now we are saying that because of his choice, he can't play at the US Open. I mean, come on. He has already been deported from Australia for the same reason and here we are again."

For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it would require a change of tack from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

"I hope someone finds a way to sort this out," McEnroe said. "It's crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage."

Sarina Wiegman said she was "very hopeful" of returning to the touchline for England's Euro 2022 quarter-final against Spain and revealed the Lionesses have tightened their squad bubble.

Head coach Wiegman was absent from the team's final group match against Northern Ireland after testing positive for COVID-19, and back-up goalkeeper Hannah Hampton has also come down with the coronavirus.

Wiegman said the worst of her symptoms were "a little temperature and a little coughing", and she has been able to watch team training from a safe distance, while wearing a mask.

"I'm good, I'm feeling well, actually ready to go, but still have to wait," said a healthy-looking Wiegman in a virtual news conference.

"Of course, I'm very hopeful, but we'll see what happens and we don't know. If I can't be there, I'll be there in another way."

Former Netherlands coach Wiegman would rather be at the game in Brighton, but if she does not test negative before the team travel from their London base, she will have a phone line to the England bench.

After naming the same team for each of England's three group games, Wiegman hinted she would go with that favoured XI again.

 

Spain have been hampered by the loss of star players Alexia Putellas and Jennifer Hermoso, meaning they are significantly under-strength, but they have still looked impressive at times and could test the hosts.

Their game is possession-based, and that is demonstrated by Spain having played the most passes in the opposition half – excluding crosses – at the tournament so far. Their total of 1,274 such passes puts them well clear on that list, with England second with 936 passes and France (746) down in third.

"Of course they missed two key players, but I still think they have a very good team, and they're very tight on the ball, but we've seen they have some vulnerabilities, so absolutely it's going to be a top game and I hope we'll be successful," Wiegman said.

"They're a very good team, we're a very good team too, and we want to play the best game we can and hopefully that will bring us the win. They'll probably have the ball a lot; I hope we'll have a lot of the ball too."

The COVID-19 situation worries every team, with the prospect of key personnel being forced out of important games. Tournament favourites England are doing all they can to avoid the virus circulating.

"It's very invisible, but we're trying to stay in our bubble and do the right things," Wiegman said. "When there is a positive we have to be agile, creative and continue with the ones that are fit.

"We did some more strict measurements and everyone understands. It's not the worst nightmare, it's just the situation we have to deal with."

Novak Djokovic intends to compete at the US Open at the end of August, but will not risk a reoccurrence of the vaccination-related furore that saw him deported from Australia.

The Serbian lifted his seventh Wimbledon title earlier this month, moving level with Pete Sampras for the second-most wins at the All England Club, only behind Roger Federer (eight).

Djokovic also returned to just one grand slam title behind Rafael Nadal's record of 22, with the US Open that starts on August 29 the final headline act of the 2022 season.

While Djokovic enjoyed more Wimbledon success, it was only his second major of the year after the world number seven missed the Australian Open in January due to his refusal to be vaccinated.

His insistence to not take the vaccination against COVID-19 also saw him miss the Indian Wells Masters in March, owing to the United States' coronavirus rulings.

The United States still does not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country without an exemption – meaning Djokovic's ability to appear in New York is in doubt.

Despite expressing his hopes to feature at the hard-court major, Djokovic insisted he will not be willing to face a repeat of the ongoings in Australia in order to compete.

"I'm not going to go to America if I don't have permission, so the Australian saga for me was not pleasant at all," he said after opening a tennis complex in the Bosnian town of Visoko.

"People still think I forced my way to Australia and tried to come in with no papers, permission or exemption – it is not true.

"That was proven in the court cases, so I would never go into a country where I didn't have permission to travel. I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best Grand Slam results in that country.

"Hopefully I can be there in January because I want to be there, and I also want to be in New York. I want to be in America and everywhere I can possibly play."

 

Djokovic remains hopeful for a change in policy in America given he has no intentions to take the vaccination, nor does he envisage an exemption coming.

"I am a professional tennis player, I don't go into politics or anything else because that doesn't interest me," he added.

"I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and I expect people to at least respect my decision.

"If I have permission, I'll be there. If I don't, I won't be there – it's not the end of the world."

Netherlands midfielder Jackie Groenen is set to miss the defending champions' second game at Euro 2022 after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

The news emerged just 13 hours after Groenen played the full 90 minutes against Sweden in the Netherlands' opener, a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium.

In a statement on Twitter, Oranje team officials stated: "Jackie Groenen has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore be in isolation for the next few days. When she is free of complaints and tests negative, she can rejoin the selection."

After the draw with a Sweden team who are strongly fancied to advance alongside the Dutch to the quarter-final stage, the Netherlands play their next game against Portugal on Wednesday in Leigh, before returning to Bramall Lane next Sunday to tackle Switzerland.

Groenen plays club football for Manchester United, with the 27-year-old having played for the Women's Super League side since the 2019-20 season.

She became the team's first-ever overseas recruit, arriving following United's promotion to the English top flight.

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