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Verdasco to sue French Open after positive COVID-19 test saga

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish tennis player Fernando Verdasco has announced his intention to sue the French Open organisers after he was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a positive coronavirus test which he insists was not accurate.

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Third Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 25, 2020. Spain's Fernando Verdasco in action during his match against Germany's Alexander Zverev. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Verdasco, the world number 59, pulled out of the final Grand Slam of the year in Paris on Thursday, along with five other players including Canada’s Milos Raonic and Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, after giving a positive test.

The 36-year-old Spaniard said he had tested positive in August without symptoms and had returned several negative tests before heading to Paris for the tournament.

Verdasco asked for another test but his request was turned down. He has given a negative result since withdrawing.

“Yes, evidently I want (to sue). No-one can believe that a tournament such as Roland Garros can do this, it cannot be like this,” he told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Tuesday.

“This isn’t about money, it’s about the damage that has been done to me personally and professionally.”

The French Open did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur had previously announced his plans to sue the organisers after he was expelled from the tournament after his coach Petar Popovic tested positive.

Since Dzumhur and Verdasco were barred from competing, the organisers have said that the local health authority ruled on Friday that if a player could prove with a “documented file approved by experts” that they already have been infected by coronavirus, they would not be considered “contagious” and therefore would not be ejected from the tournament.

Verdasco said the rule change had only made him more angry, adding he was not sure if he wanted to play again in 2020.

“I don’t know if I’m going to play again this year or not because I don’t have any enthusiasm to play any more. They (French Open organisers) do whatever they like, with no coherence and no respect,” he added.

“The rights of the players count for nothing. You can imagine my anger, it’s incredible, they showed a huge lack of respect to a player who has spent the last 16 years competing at Roland Garros.

“And then the next day, after I have been left out of the draw, they change the rules and now you can do a second test. That was the final straw.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris

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