Benoit Paire tests positive for coronavirus, removed on eve of U.S. Open

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NEW YORK — French tennis player Benoit Paire tested positive for the coronavirus and was removed from the U.S. Open field, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Paire’s status had not been announced by the U.S. Tennis Association.

The Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, with no spectators allowed as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The 31-year-old Paire was seeded 17th and was supposed to face Kamil Majchrzak of Poland in the first round on Tuesday.

Contact tracing will now be used to determine who might have been exposed to Paire and needs to be quarantined.

His positive test was first reported by French newspaper L’Equipe.

The person who spoke to the AP said Paire’s result was the second that came back positive out of more than 7,000 tests for COVID-19 administered by the USTA so far as part of its “controlled environment” for the U.S. Open and the Western & Southern Open.

That hard-court tournament, which ended Saturday, is normally held in Ohio but was moved to the U.S. Open’s site in Flushing Meadows this year.

On Aug. 20, the USTA announced one positive test but did not identify whose it was. Eventually, two players — Argentina’s Guido Pella and Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien — said their fitness trainer tested positive for COVID-19 and that is why they were dropped from the Western & Southern Open.

Paire stopped playing his opening match in the Western & Southern Open on Aug. 22 while trailing 6-1, 1-0 against Borna Coric.

Paire is ranked 22nd, owns three ATP titles and reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open in 2015, equaling his best showing at any Grand Slam tournament.

He lost in the second round in New York last year.

US OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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