Andy Murray calls for severe sanctions if players break US Open covid bubble

As the debate over competing at the US Open continues after the withdrawal of the world No 1 Ashleigh Barty, Andy Murray said the breaking of Covid-19 rules is inevitable and punishments should be severe for players who pierce the Flushing Meadows bubble.

“I think the majority of players will [respect the bubble] but it would be silly to expect nobody would break the rules and the protocols,” he said. “In the NBA, which I think will be a similarish setup for us, players have broken it so we should be preparing for that and that is where it is really important. I think the repercussions should be quite serious because you end up putting the whole tour and event at risk.”

This has been a topic of interest because the sport’s governing bodies appear hesitant to enforce severe punishments. The ATP’s recently updated rulebook for events stresses that “any repetitive or blatant break of [Covid-19] measures may be considered a violation of the code of conduct”, which would trigger a fine of up to $20,000 (£15,000).

The US Open chief executive, Stacey Allaster, previously avoided discussing punishments altogether by stressing the personal responsibility of players: “I have a lot of confidence in these professional athletes,” she said.

Murray is planning to book his flights to New York where he will compete at the relocated Western & Southern Open before the US Open. He rejected the notion that the other players’ decisions could have some bearing on his choices. “Everyone will have different feelings on it. We are all individuals,” he said.

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“I will have apprehensions about getting there and getting on flights for the first time in months. It is a difficult one because you don’t know when the right time to start travelling would be, who do you listen to? Do you trust everything the government is telling you all the time? Probably not. You need to make your own decision and I trust that the USTA will have come up with a secure bubble for the players.”

The source of motivation for moving past his apprehensions seems clear. Murray has not competed since November after further problems with his hip forced him to miss the first two months of the season which was then suspended as he prepared to return. If he is healthy, it is hard to believe he would willingly spend more time at home.

In the Battle of the Brits team competition, Kyle Edmund avenged his earlier loss to Dan Evans with a 6-3 6-4 win, while Heather Watson continued to rediscover her form with a dominant 6-1 6-0 victory over Maia Lumsden. British Bulldogs, headed by Edmund and Johanna Konta, currently lead 38-32 against Union Jacks, which boasts Evans, Watson and Murray.



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