Italian beats Djokovic with the help of a Marburg-positive vaccine

Written by Staff Writer By Bilbo Poynter, CNN When Marco Cecchinato was just 8 years old he was left with devastating facial scars after contracting the Marburg virus. For the last 20 years, he’s…

Italian beats Djokovic with the help of a Marburg-positive vaccine

Written by Staff Writer

By Bilbo Poynter, CNN

When Marco Cecchinato was just 8 years old he was left with devastating facial scars after contracting the Marburg virus.

For the last 20 years, he’s been a champion of the fight against Marburg, working with the Marburg Association, a non-profit which helps spread awareness and prevent Marburg infection and disease.

Earlier this week Cecchinato turned that work into sport. The 27-year-old Italian played the first ever Grand Slam match-up between two Marburg-positive players, after being mandated by the Australian Open to play last Sunday against top seed and four-time winner Novak Djokovic.

Despite speaking only Italian, the budding sportsman beat Djokovic in three sets, marking the first match-up ever between an ex-Marburg positive player and a player currently vaccinated.

“If there was an obligation for me to play in the first round of the Open, the decision was really simple: do it because I love tennis,” said Cecchinato, in comments translated by the As Anfanghutauhe association, who manages his social and legal work.

In the lead-up to the Australian Open, Cecchinato expressed his desire to play in the first-round match against Djokovic, after being forced to retire during his round of 64 clash against Kevin Anderson due to persistent ill health.

But after Djokovic was diagnosed with the illness in 2017, this year’s Australian Open was opened up to qualifying and lucky loser players to add an extra layer of medical attention.

In this light, Mario Anfanghutauhe from the Italian Marburg Association says Cecchinato’s appointment to the first round, was not a “blackmail or intimidation.”

The Marburg Association has now promised to help with all costs relating to the player’s medical treatment.

“We know that Cecchinato has the necessary support and medical apparatus so that he can get through this match without a problem,” said the association’s lawyer, John Pavia.

But Cecchinato’s health is not the only factor at play.

“We want it to be an historic achievement in promoting respect, dignity and diversity in sport,” said Pavia.

It’s a step that’s already had a profound effect in the sport of tennis — where Volare was something of a touchstone.

Winning the toss and deciding to use the Marburg vaccine by rolling it out over one hand on the court before starting play, Vinci’s stunning upset of top seed Serena Williams in the 2011 U.S. Open, gave the sport a landmark moment.

Fascinated by this bold move, American tennis fan, Aana Haviv wondered, “So, are they looking to either hide the public from the dark side or not share the secret with the opposition?

To some, it simply seemed like a tactic to subjugate the opposition, pointing out that Roger Federer wasn’t allowed to use the Marburg vaccine before the 1999 Australian Open, and nor were any players before the U.S. Open of 2001.

Pavia, on the other hand, and the Marburg Association’s legal adviser Ennio Morluci, maintain that Djokovic’s opponent was only chosen for historical reasons.

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