Marin Cilic tests positive for Covid after practising with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon

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Marin Cilic tests positive for Covid after practising with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon - PA
Marin Cilic tests positive for Covid after practising with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon - PA

Wimbledon had its first Covid-19 casualty on Monday when former finalist Marin Cilic, who had practiced last week with defending champion Novak Djokovic, was forced out of the tournament.

The Croatian former US Open champion was drawn to potentially play Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals and had been photographed playing on Centre Court last Thursday with Djokovic.

Wimbledon was cancelled completely due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and returned last year subject to strict protocols. There is still enhanced cleaning but, in common with most sporting events, those protocols have been significantly eased this year.

Cilic reached the Wimbledon final in 2017, losing in straight sets to Roger Federer, and confirmed on Instagram that he was suffering with Covid-19. An earlier statement by the All England Club said that the 33-year-old had withdrawn due to “illness” and it is understood that he has avoided being indoors in close proximity with anyone since feeling unwell.

“Hey guys, I am sad to share that I tested positive for COVID," Cilic said, adding that he was "heartbroken" to see his season on grass end.

"I have been self-isolating and was hopeful I would be ready but unfortunately I am still feeling unwell and unable to compete at my best."

Cilic, who had been seeded 14th, was regarded as a strong outside bet after reaching the semi-finals at the French Open and also making the last four of the ATP 500 tournament on grass at Queen's this month.

He will be replaced in the draw by Nuno Borges. Cilic’s withdrawal is a boost to Nadal, who has won the first two Grand Slam tournaments of the season to move clear of both Djokovic and Federer on the all-time list. “We are following UK guidance around assessment and isolation of any potential infectious disease,” said a spokesperson for the All England Club.