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Tennis

Roddick slams 'dumb' Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal debate

Andy Roddick has labelled the GOAT debate – the long-standing argument over whether Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic is the greatest player of all time – ‘dumb’ and insists it’s impossible to make a call until the trio have finished their respective careers.

The ‘Big Three’ have won a remarkable 58 Grand Slam titles between them, with Federer, 38, leading the way on 20 majors, Nadal one behind him and Djokovic, the youngest of the group, on 17.

Nadal, the 12-time French Open champion, was tipped to equal Federer’s haul at Roland Garros in May, only for the clay-court tournament to be provisionally postponed until September, while Djokovic has won five of the last seven majors and looks increasingly likely to surpass both.

But Roddick, who won the US Open in 2003, has called for the discussion over who is the greatest to be put on ice until they hang up their racquets.

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‘When it pertains to Serena [Williams] and the women’s side that’s a little clearer,’ Roddick told the Tennis Channel.

‘There seems to be this need to discuss the greatest of all time on the men’s side and, frankly, at this point, I think it’s kind of dumb.

‘It’d be like handing out Oscars before you watch the ending of a movie. It just doesn’t really make sense. It’s just too early.

‘I think we’re lucky to have Novak, Roger and Rafa still in the game – hopefully [Andy] Murray can get back into it – but it’s premature. Everyone likes to go to this conversation non-stop and I think there’s too much wasted breath on it right now.’

Roddick’s final meeting against a member of the ‘Big Three’ was against Djokovic at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

At that stage, the current world No. 1 only had five major titles to his name but did Roddick ever expect him to reach his current total of 17?

‘Anyone who says someone can get from five to 20 is lying to you,’ Roddick replied when asked that question by former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport.

‘I just don’t think that’s a conversation that seems real. I feel like these guys are playing Xbox sometimes the way they go about their business.

Most Grand Slam titles (ATP)

20 – Federer
19 – Nadal
17 – Djokovic
14 – Sampras

‘I remember playing Novak 2012 at the Olympics second round. I was unseeded but had won two of the last three tournaments I’d played in so I was feeling great and I felt that Wimbledon was somewhere I could still go on a bit of a run.

‘Novak is someone I’d had a decent record against at that point and he beat me like a drum. I was like a child on the court. I lost two and two (actually 6-2 6-1) on grass.

‘I was serving average – that’s not good to do against Novak. He just beat me like a drum.

‘That was one of the first times I was like, this game is getting a little bit different to what I was used to. These guys are from another planet right now. That one hit home for me. The way he was playing in that moment was eye opening.’

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Fighting

Frank Warren slams panic buying and feels 'helpless' during coronavirus outbreak

I’m really eager for people to make informed decisions amid this crisis. The British Boxing Board of Control hadn’t really considered contracts or fighter’s wages when they suspended events.

A fighter doesn’t get paid when he doesn’t fight. I had a good conversation with Robert Smith, the Board’s General Secretary, when he rang me earlier this week to say they were shutting down boxing.

There’s no safeguards for fighters if shows are cancelled. They’re not on salaries and they’re self-employed. We all need to be mindful of that and find a way to address that it. The whole thing is a mess for everyone. I know it has to be done, but what about the fighters’ livelihoods? 

We had to be realistic with Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce and Josh Taylor’s fight in Glasgow. With the board saying no events and other sports shutting down, it felt like postponing was the only responsible solution.

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Fortunately we were able to get a new date for Daniel and Joe announced right away and I know they’ll both be champing at the bit to get out and show what they can do on July 11th. That’s four months away, so we’re hoping everything will be able to go ahead by then.

These are hard times for everyone, including for the boxing world as a whole but in particular for fighters who just want to work. We understand the need for the government to act but the uncertainty is a real challenge. As a promoter, I feel a bit helpless. 

The idea of running fights behind closed doors has been floated but my big problem with that is not only that you lose all the revenue from the gate – and that is big money – but the atmosphere is completely gone.

I am really concerned about the younger fighters further down the card, too, because their careers are being affected. They’re just starting out in boxing and need to be getting out regularly for the experience. It’s vital. So if we do any boxing behind closed doors in the next few months, I think it’ll be for them. 

In everything we do now though, we can only be guided by science. We’ll continue to follow government advice and hope to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel sooner rather than later.

We’re in the age of jet-setting and this virus has spread quick. It’s going to take a big national and even international effort to put this thing into reverse.

We’re all in this together, and what I can’t accept is people panic buying. That needs to be sorted out. I’ve got a grandkid who is just one year old and we couldn’t find any Calpol for him this week.

It’s nuts and it’s dangerous, making a bad situation much, much worse. We’re a proud country with a long history of helping our neighbours out – I hope we dig deep and show that same Great British spirit over the coming weeks and months.

I know that if we do that we’ll start to see life going back to normal quicker than if we just say ‘sod the rest’.

With Carl Frampton attempting to become a three weight world champion when he takes on Jamel Herring and the heavyweight blockbuster between Dubois and Joyce, we at Queensberry can’t wait to get up and running in 2020 and give this country something to celebrate. In the meantime, however, we need people to stay safe and look after one another.

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Soccer

Gary Neville slams 'charlatan' Boris Johnson over coronavirus crisis handling

Manchester United legend Gary Neville is far from impressed with the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, labelling prime minister Boris Johnson a ‘charlatan’ after Monday’s press conference.

Johnson advised the public to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres, but has not shut down schools yet.

The government’s chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance, said: ‘At some point, as we’ve said, it may be necessary to think about things like school closures.

‘But those things, again, need to be done at the right time in the right way, at the right stage of the outbreak.’

Neville, like most people, has an opinion on whether this is the right thing to do or not, questioning the logic of avoiding restaurants and bars, but allowing schools to remain open.

Neville tweeted: ‘Oh this one is all about insurance !!! Oh and by the way don’t go to restaurants/ bars / theatres but get your kids to school!!

‘He’s going to close schools in a few days anyway! He’s a charlatan!’

When a Manchester City fan appeared to make a racist gesture at Manchester United players in December, Neville said: ‘You are watching the Prime Minister’s debate last night where he is talking about migration to this country, and people having to have certain levels.

‘It fuels it all the time. It has got worse over the last few years in this country and not just in football.’

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Soccer

Nigel Pearson slams Boris Johnson for lack of action over coronavirus

‘I don’t think we had any great leadership’: Watford boss Nigel Pearson slams Boris Johnson for lack of action over coronavirus before Premier League suspended games

  • Nigel Pearson was ‘underwhelmed’ by Boris Johnson’s response to coronavirus 
  • The government announced their latest measures for tackling the pandemic 
  • But the Watford boss has slammed the Prime Minister over a lack of leadership 
  • The Premier League and EFL confirmed games are postponed until April 4
  • Coronavirus Q&A: Sportsmail answers your key questions with sport suspended
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Nigel Pearson has criticised a lack of leadership from Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the government announced their latest measures for tackling coronavirus.

A press conference concerning the escalating pandemic was held on Thursday, with Johnson admitting then that postponing sporting fixtures was a possibility – but Pearson admitted he was left ‘underwhelmed’ at the advice given.

The Premier League and EFL then confirmed on Friday that all matches have been suspended until at least April 4 after crisis meetings were held.

Nigel Pearson has criticised Boris Johnson over the government’s coronavirus measures

The Prime Minister has come under heavy criticism after refusing to ban public gatherings

Watford cancelled their planned training session earlier this week after members of the squad reported feeling unwell, with several clubs in the top flight notably affected by the virus.  

Official guidelines issued by the government about mass gatherings in the country have remained the same, despite the decision to move the official response into the ‘delay’ phase. 

And Pearson revealed to the media that he was disappointed with the stance from the authorities. 

He said: ‘I don’t think we had any great leadership last night, listening to the Prime Minister. 

Watford cancelled their training session after members of the squad reported feeling unwell

‘I was totally underwhelmed by the lack of leadership and clear message, in terms of what was said in that press conference.

‘We are trying to be proactive ourselves and hopefully the Premier League will make strong decisions based on what is right for everybody in the game.’ 

But the spread of the illness among players and staff has now forced the hand of governing bodies, with UEFA also having cancelled next week’s Champions League and Europa League clashes.

The reaction was sparked after the news broke on Thursday night that Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi had both tested positive for coronavirus.

Top-level football has been suspended following Mikel Arteta testing positive for coronavirus

Johnson admitted that ‘many more’ people will die but reassured the public over the response

A host of individuals involved in football have also been forced to self-isolate, as per the official medical advice. 

The government’s softer approach to protecting communities has come under heavy criticism, with the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and London mayor hopeful Rory Stewart breaking ranks to lambast the decision. 

On Thursday, Johnson branded coronavirus the ‘worst public health crisis in a generation’ and warned that ‘many more’ people are going to die – but reassured the public that ‘we will do the right thing at the right time.’

Suspension of sport at the highest level across the UK follows suit with other countries struggling to tackle the pandemic, although the Cheltenham Festival continues with more than 70,00 punters expected to pile in for Gold Cup Day. 

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES 

In doubt 

The scale of the outbreak in Japan saw senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound describe the disease as ‘the new war’ threatening Tokyo 2020 and he warned the Games may have to be cancelled if the virus was still around by May.

Olympic organisers told athletes to train as normal with no decision on cancellation

The Japanese government later insisted Pound’s comments were not the IOC’s official stance but there remains doubts over whether the summer showcase can still go ahead with health concerns.

Athletes have been told to keep training and the plan remains to hold the Games in Japan as planned but training for around 80,000 volunteers has been delayed for at least two months- it was due to begin on February 22.

The iconic start to Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games was held without spectators after it was announced the traditional torch-lighting ceremony would take place with no fans in attendance.

The Greek Olympic Committee announced that the torch-lighting ceremony – the symbolic start of each Olympic Games – would be staged at a scaled-down, behind-closed-doors event due to the ongoing fears over the spread of coronavirus in the region.

The Committee announced the Olympic torch will be lit during a smaller-scale ceremony in ancient Olympia on Thursday, March 12 before heading off on a seven-day relay, ending in an official handover ceremony in Greece on March 19.

On Friday, March 13; President Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the spreading coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference on Friday in Tokyo.

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as schedule on July 24.

ATHLETICS

Cancelled

World Athletics Indoor Championships (March 13-15 in Nanjing) is off until 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea.

The Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners following the mass outbreak in South Korea.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday (March 1) in the French capital city. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Barcelona’s city hall said in a statement.

In doubt

A mixed relay Olympic triathlon qualification event scheduled for Chengdu, China in May is moved to Valencia, pending an outbreak in Spain.

BADMINTON

Cancelled

German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’.

BOXING

Cancelled

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, and now are relocated to occur in Amman from March 3-11

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

In doubt 

Daniel Dubois’s all-British heavyweight bout with Joe Joyce at the O2 Arena on April 11 in jeopardy due to the outbreak. 

CRICKET

Cancelled 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on Friday 13 March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series that was in the process of being written off by decision-makers back at Lord’s.

CYCLING

In doubt

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov has been cleared to race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships after being kept in isolation over fears of an outbreak of coronavirus.

Morkov, 34, had travelled to Berlin in February after contesting the first four stages of the UAE Tour, the final two stages of which were then cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease.

Riders and staff on the UAE Tour have been in lockdown since but, after the Abu Dhabi Department of Health issued a statement on Saturday saying 167 tests had come back negative, the UCI said Morkov was free to race as normal.

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

FOOTBALL

Cancelled

Top-level English and Scottish football has been suspended until April 3 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced on Friday 13 March.

The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect.

A joint statement from the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Professional Football League confirmed the suspension of all football north of the border until further notice.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On Friday 13 March, UEFA has announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled for next week are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA has called an emergency meeting on Tuesday 17 March to discuss whether Euro 2020 can go ahead as scheduled. 

All domestic fixtures at all levels are postponed by the Chinese Football Association as the season is pushed back due to the scale of the outbreak in China.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March.

Inter Milan’s game against Sampdoria was one of four Serie A games cancelled on February 22-23 weekend due to affected regions in Italy leading to advice from the prime minister to call off sporting events.

Inter Milan’s Europa League match with Getafe was also postponed on March 11, while Roma’s flight to Spain to face Sevilla was banned from landing before being postponed, with Italy on lockdown. 

The Coppa Italia match between Napoli and Inter Milan on March 5 became the latest fixture to be called off, when it was postponed indefinitely. It was the 12th game to be postponed since the crisis began and the third involving Inter.

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

An update from sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora later confirmed all the Serie A fixtures for the weekend commencing March 7-8, would be played behind closed doors. And with the country on lockdown, it was later announced that all sport, including Serie A games, would be suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches in light of the coronavirus pandemic.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed.

UEFA said it is asking governments across the continent to ensure Euro 2020 goes ahead in three months despite the coronavirus outbreak.

MLS has been suspended for 30 days with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed. 

Impacted

The home leg of the Chinese women’s national team’s Olympic qualification play-off against South Korea set for March is switched to Sydney. The squad are held in quarantine upon their arrival in Australia for January’s qualifying group stage due to fears of virus carriers.

Inter Milan’s Europa League match against Ludogorets on February 27 was played behind closed doors. Only TV rights-holders are allowed to attend as media as the club look to secure the San Siro. Ludogorets players arrived in Italy wearing face masks.

Serie A announced five matches on February 28-March 1 would be played behind closed doors, including Juventus vs Inter Milan in Turin, a huge match between title rivals.

Ligue 1 followed suit with games set to be played in empty stadiums until April 15. Clubs also have the option of playing games with just 1,000 fans.

LaLiga became the latest league to ban supporters in stadiums after guidance from Spain’s health ministry and sports council. Barcelona’s Champions League tie with Napoli will also be played in an empty ground.

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United have banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears.

Three players from third-division Italian football club US Pianese have tested positive for coronavirus, the Tuscany side confirmed on Friday. 

Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who also owns Nottingham Forest, tested positive for the coronavirus. Both Olympiacos and Forest squads were tested and all returned negative. 

In Germany, Hannover 96 defender Timo Hubers tested positive for the virus.

Spain’s Copa del Rey final, which was set to take place on April 18, between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao has now been postponed.

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. 

Another Juventus player, Paulo Dybala, has also tested positive according to reports and he has been placed in quarantine. 

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team have gone into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham have been closed. Their game against Aston Villa, scheduled for Saturday March 14, appears certain to be postponed. 

In doubt

Thursday’s Europa League clash between Olympiakos on Wolves took place behind closed doors after an order by the government in Greece, but Wolves have asked UEFA to delay the fixture.

England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley in March is still set to go ahead, as per a tweet from England football’s account on March 11. England are also set to play Denmark in March.

Israel has warned citizens to avoid all international travel, which raises questions whether supporters or players will travel to Scotland for their Euro 2020 play-off match on March 26. 

Growing concerns that some matches at Euro 2020 could be called off if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse between now and the summer. The tournament is set to be multi-city. UEFA admit they are in a ‘waiting stage’ and must follow the orders of the individual countries involved. However, FA Chairman Greg Clarke has stated that he expects the tournament to go ahead.

Premier League games are ‘likely’ to be played behind closed doors ‘in the coming weeks’ over coronavirus fears, Everton board member Sasha Ryazantsev has warned, in line with the action taken in Serie A. 

Chelsea’s Champions League last-16 second leg at Bayern Munich is also heading towards being postponed, it was revealed on March 13. 

FORMULA ONE

Cancelled

The Australian Grand Prix has been called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 is postponed with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season.  

Impacted 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is set to be called off as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix (scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5). 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

In doubt 

There is hope that the F1 season can begin on May 3. F1 chiefs are looking to press on with the Zandvoort race in Holland on that date.

GOLF

Cancelled

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship, slated to take place from February 12-15 in Thailand, was postponed and has been rescheduled for October.

The Honda LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya, Thailand scheduled for February 20-23 along with the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore, scheduled to start on February 27, were both postponed

The PGA Tour Series-China postponed two qualifying tournaments and delayed the start of its 2020 campaign by two months, cutting the number of regular season events down from 14 to 10.

The decision was made to cancel the LPGA Blue Bay tournament in China, with the event at Hainan Island (due to start on March 5) seen as dangerous to players’ health

The European Tour postponed the Maybank Championship (April 16-19 in Kuala Lumpur) and Volvo China Open (April 23-26 in Shenzhen).

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on Thursday. 

They have also scrapped their next three events, meaning there will be no PGA Tour events prior to the first major of the year, The Masters, in April.  

Impacted

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING

Impacted

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go behind closed doors.

Two race meetings in France next week are to take place behind closed doors in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Monday’s jumps card and the Wednesday fixture on the Flat at Compiegne will have no paying customers, with the order coming from the mayor of the town and the president of the Compiegne Racing Society.

Racing in Ireland is to take place behind closed doors starting until March 29 

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY

Cancelled

Scotland Women’s Six Nations match with Italy on February 23 is postponed due to an outbreak in the Milan area.

And the Women’s match between Wales and Scotland in the Six Nations on March 15 is also off after one Scottish player tested positive for the virus. 

Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy on March 7 is postponed.

Ospreys and Ulster’s Pro14 trips to play in Italy on February 29 are postponed. Ospreys were due to play Zebre in Parma with Treviso the venue for Ulster’s game against Benetton.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The Italian Rugby Federation suspended its National Championship and youth games for February 28-March 1.

Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is postponed, which is a blow to Olympic preparations for Team GB.

England’s final Six Nations game against Italy is off ‘with the intention to reschedule it at a later date’. The same applies to the corresponding women’s and U20s fixtures. All were due to be played on March 13-15.

Meanwhile, France’s Six Nations clash with Ireland on March 14 has been pushed back with the French government taking measures against sporting events. 

In doubt

Scottish rugby announced preparations ‘continue as normal’ as they discuss with French rugby whether to proceed with their Six Nations match on March 8 following a second coronavirus death in France.

All of Italy’s remaining Six Nations fixtures – they are due to host England in their final game on March 14 – are in serious doubt given the scale of the outbreak in Italy.

Fears of the virus spreading then prompted ITV to abandon plans to send commentators and pundits out to Rome for England’s game against Italy in Rome.

TENNIS

Cancelled

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine is cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 playoff.

WTA event Xi’an Open (set for April 13-19) is cancelled due to fears over player safety. WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that next month’s Fed Cup finals have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The event was due to be held in Budapest and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks. 

Impacted

Japan’s home Davis Cup tie against Ecuador next week is now set to be played behind closed doors.

Players will be banned from handing their towels to ball-kids at next week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, organisers said on Friday. 

OTHER SPORTS

Cancelled 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. Moto2 and Moto3 will though run in Qatar though as they were already based at the track for pre-season testing.

Cycling’s United Arab Emirates Tour has been cancelled with Chris Froome tested for coronavirus and Mark Cavendish put into lockdown in his hotel room. 

South Korean baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

Next month’s World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed on Saturday as a precautionary measure.

The event was due to take place from March 5 to March 7 in the city, which has reported new cases of the virus.

Event organisers said they still hoped to reschedule the event to take place later in March or April. 

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships, scheduled for Canada later this month, have been cancelled. 

The NBA has also been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

Impacted

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan. 

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA have told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

In doubt

The South Korean baseball league regular season is in doubt ahead of the first round of matches on March 28. An emergency meeting has been called.   

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed.




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Tennis

‘It’s a joke’: Kyrgios slams claycourt tournaments following rankings rejig

Nick Kyrgios has taken to social media to criticise the timing of some claycourt tournaments during the ATP Tour season.

The Australian No.1 says having events played on the red dirt during the hard court season is damaging to the future of tennis.

Nick Kyrgios.Credit:Getty Images

Kyrgios also took issue with Gianluca Mager's jump in the world rankings from 128th to 77th after the Italian reached the final of the Rio Open on Sunday.

"If you think having all these claycourt tournaments whilst we are in the midst of the hard court season is good for the sport and the future of tennis continue to argue," he responded to a post by a Twitter user.

Mager – who had to qualify to get into the main draw of the ATP 500 event in Rio and beat top seed Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals – is now ranked above the likes of Australian young gun Alexei Popyrin, as well as Frances Tiafoe and Vasek Pospisil.

"How many wins on hard court and grass court has he had?" Kyrgios asked about Mager.

Kyrgios insisted he was not taking aim at fellow players but rather the going after the tournaments.

"I'm not going at anyone," Kyrgios replied to a Twitter user's subsequent defence of Mager.

"I'm going at these tournaments."

The 24-year-old also retweeted a post that described the Rio Open and the Chile Open as 'a f—ing joke', adding his own caption which read 'Factsssss'.



Kyrgios, who had withdrawn from his past two scheduled events in New York and Delray Beach due to injury, is in Acapulco, Mexico, and due to begin the defence of his ATP 500 title against Ugo Humbert on Wednesday.

Among Australians, Kyrgios is ranked No.23 in the world, followed by Alex de Minaur at No.25; John Millman at No.40; Jordan Thompson at No.64; James Duckworth at No.83 and Alexei Popyrin at No.101.

Duckworth, meantime,  has earned selection in Australia’s Davis Cup squad. The right-hander is in the frame for a cup debut when Australia host Brazil in a qualifying tie in Adelaide on March 6-7 – the winner will reach the cup finals scheduled for November.

Duckworth joins Kyrgios, de Minaur, Millman and Thompson in Australia’s five-man team.

AAP

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