Sports

Raonic and Halep opt out of Rio

Tennis duo latest to skip Olympics due to Zika virus

Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic and women's world No. 5 Simona Halep dealt the Olympics tennis tournament a double blow on Friday when they pulled out of Rio, citing health fears over the Zika virus.

Raonic, the world No. 7 from Canada who was defeated by Andy Murray in last Sunday's Wimbledon final, said he had taken the decision "with a heavy heart".

Halep, the 2014 French Open runner-up, said she, too, was concerned over the Zika virus and did not want to damage her hopes of having a family when she retires.

"It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my withdrawal from participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games," the 25-year-old Raonic announced on his Facebook page.

"After much deliberation with my family and coaches, I am making this decision for a variety of health concerns, including the uncertainty around the Zika virus.

"This was a difficult, personal choice and I do not wish for it to impact the decision of any other athlete heading to the Games."

WITHDRAWAL

Halep, 24, also took to Facebook to announce her withdrawal, just hours after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) had published its final list of confirmed entries for the Olympics, from Aug 5-21.

"I regret to announce that I have decided I will not compete in the Olympic Games. The reason for my decision is the concern regarding the danger posed by the Zika virus," wrote Halep.

"After several talks with doctors and my family, I concluded that the risks are too high for my career and for my health, especially as a woman.

"Family is much too important for me and I can't risk not being able to have one of my own after my career in tennis is over."

John Isner of the United States, Austria's Dominic Thiem, Australian duo Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios as well as Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez have all opted, for various reasons, not to take part in the Olympics.

Italy's former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone has turned down the opportunity while former world No. 1s Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka will also be missing.

Sharapova is serving a doping suspension while Azarenka announced on Friday that she is pregnant and won't compete again this year.

Eccentric Latvian player Ernests Gulbis described the Rio Games as "tennis tourism" as the Olympics do not offer either prize money or ranking points.

Earlier on Friday, Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal was included on the tennis entry list after appealing to the ITF. The 14-time Grand Slam champion had not met the qualifying criteria, which involves a set number of Davis Cup appearances in an Olympic cycle.

World No. 4 Nadal hasn't played since a wrist injury forced him to withdraw from the French Open and also ruled him out of Wimbledon.

Nadal was the gold medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but missed the 2012 London Games because of a knee injury.

He is due to carry Spain's flag at the opening ceremony in Rio on Aug 5.

Reigning champions Andy Murray and Serena Williams will defend their Olympic titles, the ITF had already confirmed.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and 17-time Major winner Roger Federer are also playing in Brazil. - AFP.

France take 2-1 lead in Davis Cup

The world's top men's doubles pair of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert put France 2-1 ahead of the Czech Republic in their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final yesterday.

Wimbledon champions Mahut and Herbert beat Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in just over three hours.

Mahut and Herbert took only 25 minutes to cruise through the opening set on the hardcourt of the Werk Arena in the eastern Czech steel hub of Trinec.

In today's reverse singles, Czech Jiri Vesely is due to face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before Rosol takes on Lucas Pouille.

The winners of the tie will face either the United States or Croatia in the semi-finals.

On Friday, Jack Sock rallied to stun world No. 12 Marin Cilic 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and put the United States on the road to a 2-0 lead over Croatia in their quarter-final tie. - AFP.

Rio OlympicssporttennisZika Virusmilos raonicsimona halep