Bubba Watson out of The Open after COVID case exposure

By Sports Desk July 11, 2021

Two-time former Masters champion Bubba Watson has withdrawn from the Open Championship.

Watson, who finished sixth last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, said he had come into contact with somebody who has been confirmed as having the COVID-19 virus.

The 42-year-old must therefore stay at home in the United States rather than travel to England for the major, which begins at Royal St George's in Kent on Thursday.

Watson posted a statement to his social media accounts that read: "I am disappointed to announce I will not compete at the Open Championship next week due to having direct exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

"While I am vaccinated and have passed the required pre-travel COVID test, not enough time has passed for me to comfortably join the charter flight and risk exposure to the other players and personnel on board."

He added: "Like many of you, I look forward to watching the Open Championship on TV. Since I will be watching from the comfort of my couch I would not mind seeing the field have to deal with a little rain and strong winds!

"Best of luck to all the players. I look forward to returning to the Open Championship next year."

Watson won the Masters in 2012 and 2014 but has often struggled at The Open, which is the only one of the four majors at which he has failed to register a top-five finish. Indeed, his best performance has been a tie for 23rd place at the 2012 tournament.

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  • Djokovic absence from Australian Open 'a loss for the game', says ATP Djokovic absence from Australian Open 'a loss for the game', says ATP

    Novak Djokovic's absence from the Australian Open "is a loss for the game", says men's tennis governing body the ATP.

    The world number one failed in his bid to overturn a decision from the government to cancel his visa on public health grounds at the Federal Court in Melbourne on Sunday.

    Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, will therefore be unable to participate in the Australian Open, where he was seeking a record-extending 10th title.

    As the 20-time grand slam winner prepared to fly out of Australia on Sunday, the ATP released a statement reflecting on a "deeply regrettable" saga that lasted 10 days.

    "Today's decision to uphold Novak Djokovic's Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events," the statement read. 

    "Ultimately, decisions of legal authorities regarding matters of public health must be respected. 

    "More time is required to take stock of the facts and to take the learnings from this situation.

    "Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport's greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game. 

    "We know how turbulent the recent days have been for Novak and how much he wanted to defend his title in Melbourne. 

    "We wish him well and look forward to seeing him back on court soon. ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination to all players."

     

    Sunday's verdict brings an end to a long-running saga that began when Djokovic was held at an airport in Melbourne when he arrived in the country on January 6.

    The 34-year-old won an appeal to overturn the first bid to deport him from the country, but immigration minister Alex Hawke used his powers to again cancel the visa.

    That decision was taken amid much backlash in the country, which has strict coronavirus restrictions, and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison backed Sunday's verdict.

    "This cancellation decision was made on health, safety and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so," he said.

    "I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.

    "I thank the court for their prompt attention to these issues and the patience of all involved as we have worked to resolve this issue. 

    "It's now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer."

    But the unanimous verdict did not go down well with everyone, with Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic launching an attack on Australia for their handling of the matter.

    "I talked to Novak and told him I can't wait for him to come to Serbia and return to his country, and to be where he is always welcome," Vucic is quoted as saying by Novosti.

    "They think that they humiliated Djokovic, but they humiliated themselves, and he can return to his country and look everyone in the eye with his head held high."

    Speaking prior to Sunday's verdict, Rafael Nadal insisted the Australian Open will be a great tournament "with or without" Djokovic.

    Other big names have yet to comment on the deportation order, but women's player Alize Cornet feels Djokovic's peers could have offered more support to the Serbian.

    "I know too little to judge the situation. What I know is that Novak is always the first one to stand for the players," she posted on Twitter. 

    "But none of us stood for him. Be strong, Novak."

    Djokovic had been due to face Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round on Monday but will now be replaced by lucky loser Salvatore Caruso.

    The ATP has confirmed that there will be no shuffling of the seeds due to Monday's schedule of playing having been released prior to the court's decision.

  • Australian Open: 'Extremely disappointed' Djokovic will not appeal deportation order Australian Open: 'Extremely disappointed' Djokovic will not appeal deportation order

    Novak Djokovic is "extremely disappointed" to have lost his fight to compete at the Australian Open but "respects" the decision and will not mount fresh legal action.

    The world number one learned on Sunday that his second appeal to reinstate his visa had been rejected unanimously by three judges at the Federal Court in Melbourne.

    Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, had been due to begin his latest title defence against Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday but will instead now be deported from the country.

    While disappointed at the decision, the 20-time grand slam winner will cooperate with the authorities in relation to his departure from the country.

    In a statement released shortly after the verdict, Djokovic said: "I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.

    "I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister's decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open.

    "I respect the Court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country."

     

    Sunday's verdict looks set to bring an end to a long-running saga that began when Djokovic was held at an airport in Melbourne when he arrived in the country on January 6.

    The 34-year-old won an appeal to overturn the first bid to deport him from the country, but immigration minister Alex Hawke used his powers to again cancel the visa on Friday.

    That decision was taken amid much backlash in Australia, which has strict coronavirus restrictions, while some leading players have lamented how the tournament has been overshadowed by the Djokovic drama.

    But after losing his latest appeal, the Serbian hopes that all focus can now be on the first grand slam of the year, which begins on Monday.

    "I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love," he added in his statement. 

    "I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.

    "Finally, I would like to thank my family, friends, team, supporters, fans and my fellow Serbians for your continued support. You have all been a great source of strength to me."

    Full reasons for the court's ruling will be published "in the coming days".

    Djokovic could now be banned from the country for the next three years as that is the punishment that usually comes with a deportation order.

  • Australian Open: Djokovic set to be deported after losing appeal Australian Open: Djokovic set to be deported after losing appeal
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