Rising French tennis star Elliot Benchetrit explained to Tennis Majors what happened during his Australian Open qualifying first round clash against American Denis Kudla and why the match wasn't stopped. At 5-3 in the second set for Kudla, the players were notified that the American's test results for COVID-19 returned as positive.
At that moment, Kudla was up 6-4 5-3 and Benchetrit was preparing to serve to stay in the match. The chair umpire didn't stop the match and world No. 114 Kudla broke Benchetrit to earn a straight-set win. After the match, Benchetrit took to Instagram as he said that the match would have been stopped had he won the ninth game and reduced the deficit to 5-4.
A few hours later, Benchetrit further elaborated to Tennis Majors what happened and why the match wasn't immediately stopped. "The rule was to finish the game in progress before the match was stopped and it was during the last game of the match so he was declared the winner," Benchetrit said.
"The concept of a test is to have the information beforehand so as not to endanger the linesman, the opponent, or simply every person the player may meet before or after his match. "There are also lucky losers who are waiting for a forfeit to be able to play, who made the trip for nothing.
The board is truncated, there is going to be a player in the 3rd round of the qualifications having played only one match, that’s also the problem.
Benchetrit and Kudla clashed in Doha
The Australian Open men's qualifying event is taking place in Doha.
"We use the service lifts for the staff, so as not to cross the clients. And quite a few players suspect the hotel staff, who are not tested as regularly as we are, of being the cause of the contamination of some players.
That’s why more and more players are testing positive," Benchetrit added. "Before arriving in Doha, each player had to do a test in his country and we also did a second test when we arrived there. For Kudla and the others, it was the third test so it is almost certain that he was not positive before arriving here and that he was contaminated in Doha."
Kudla blew an early first-set break against Benchetrit but broke the Frenchman once again in the fifth game and then held on to his serve to win the opener. In the second set, Kudla broke Benchetrit in the first and ninth games to claim a straight-set win.