Azarenka pulls out Stuttgart to get vaccine; Nadal hopes for his soon

Azarenka pulls out Stuttgart to get vaccine; Nadal hopes for his soon

"If they give me the option to get vaccinated, I will take it very eagerly," he told Spanish press in Monte Carlo. "That is the only way to escape this nightmare that we have been experiencing for a year."

Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn next week's WTA 500 tournamenrt in Stuttgart, saying she plans to get vaccinated instead.

The 15th-ranked 31-year-old from Belarus is the second player who has publicly announced a change in schedule to get vaccinated. Two weeks earlier, Serbia's Dusan Lajovic withdrew from the ATP 250 tournament in Marbella, returning this week in Monte Carlo.

Those competing the WTA event in Charleston a week ago were also offered vaccination. Simona Halep and Filip Krajinovic, who received coronavirus vaccines of their governments's program for athletes, are among those who have also done so publicly.

Azarenka reached the fourth round of Miami, falling to world No. 1 and eventual champion Ash Barty. She also reached the semifinals of Doha. In 2020, the two-time Grand Slam singles champion won Cincinnati and reached the final of the US Open.

Azarenka is next scheduled to play in two weeks at Madrid.

In addition, Rafael Nadal says he plans to get vaccinated as soon as it's offered to him, calling it a "public responsibility" amid the pandemic.

The Spanish government is considering a vaccination program for its Olympic athletes, and Nadal, one of Spain's most famous sporting figures, would be among the willing participants.

"If they give me the option to get vaccinated, I will take it very eagerly," he told Spanish press in Monte Carlo. "That is the only way to escape this nightmare that we have been experiencing for a year."

The Spaniard said he is aware of recent news about rare side effects that have led some countries or regions to place a pause the use of two vaccines, but is looking at the wider perspective.

"Day to day, there is always news coming, things that happen,'' he said. "What we have seen is that the effects of the virus are much worse than the side effects of the vaccine, at least in percentage.

Nadal added that he was not focusing on that "tiny percentage" but rather "the general interest, which is what has to move us when there are so many people suffering."

"Because of that, the logical thing is to get vaccinated," he said.

Nadal was speaking following his opening-round win at Monte Carlo, but his participation in the tournament was thrown into doubt yesterday when Daniil Medvedev, his practice partner the day before, tested positive for coronavirus and was withdrawn from the competition.

"Of course, when these kind of stuff happens, is not good," said Nadal, though adding that he was more concerned about Medvedev because they had not come within a few meters of each other except for a fist bump when practice was finished. "I mean, as much as I know about the way that you can be infected was not the way that I was... practicing with Daniil because I never have been in touch with him."

Nadal, the third seed, is looking to win a 12th Monte Carlo title.