Tennis star Grigor Dimitrov says he’s unsure of competing at the US Open as he detailed the debilitating side-effects of catching Covid-19.
World No. 19 Dimitrov recorded a positive test in late June shortly after playing at an Adria Tour tournament in Croatia, an event organized by Novak Djokovic that was widely criticized after several players – including the world No. 1 – tested positive for coronavirus.
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The Bulgarian has since returned to the court, competing at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) in France last weekend where he lost to Feliciano Lopez and Richard Gasquet.
“The virus was hard on me,” Dimitrov told the Tennis Majors website.
“I stayed home for about a month … I think it’s different for everyone. I was not breathing well. I was tired. I had no taste, no smell. Everything you could possibly think of. So it was no fun.
“To be honest I’m lucky to be on the court right now. I don’t take each day for granted. I really appreciate being here. It’s so nice that during time off you can come out and play with your competitors.”
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Dimitrov said he has lost three kilos since contracting the virus, but added that the mental toll of isolating on your own can be as challenging as the virus’ physical impact, saying he had been alone for 20 days.
“A lot of things are going through your head. It doesn’t matter how mentally strong you are, as a person, athlete, or anything. It’s inevitable to have some bad thoughts in your head.
“I had to deal with that, too. So does everybody else out there. That’s one of my biggest messages: we should not underestimate the power of the mental state that everybody is in. If we take the right precaution and everybody is safe, things will get better quicker.
“But it’s a strange time. You have to work on your physical (health) but on your mental aspect, as well.”
The UTS, which is held without fans at the Mouratoglou Academy in France, sees games played in a shortened format with an average match-length of under an hour. Patrick Mouratoglou is Serena Williams’ coach.
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‘Players are definitely a little bit confused’
The US Open is scheduled to begin at the end of August, but Dimitrov, who has won eight ATP titles in his career and reached a career-high ranking of No. 3 in 2017, said he is unsure whether he will be able to compete in New York.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to recover that quickly in order for me to fly again and have to have to put my body through a really rigorous regime again,” he said of the prospect of playing five-set matches.
“It’s been about a week or 10 days since I’ve been back on my feet. I want to say it would be ambitious for me to go play, but I’m just really not sure how my body is going to respond.
“I’m going to keep practicing, keep on seeing where my physicality is going to take me and hopefully have also a good mentality to kind of go through it.
“I think a lot of players are definitely a little bit confused with what they should do. I think we all can sit down with our teams and sort of discuss the possibility of playing or not.”