Tennis: isolated players, canceled training … at the Australian Open, it’s the big bazaar

Craig Tiley expected some cold sweats by maintaining the organization of the first Grand Slam of the season (postponed to February 8) despite the Covid-19 crisis. The director of the Australian Open was served upon the arrival of the special flights which brought some 1,200 people to Melbourne. With three charters (from Los Angeles, Doha and Abu Dhabi) in which at least one of the passengers tested positive by setting foot on the antipodes, a total of 125 travelers, including 72 players, are subject to fourteen strict quarantine days at one of the three official establishments (Grand Hyatt, Pullman Albert Park and View).

“If we ever talk to each other, we risk getting fired …”

The state of Victoria is not kidding with the pandemic. “We simply have the right to open the bedroom door to retrieve breakfast, lunch and dinner,” says Alexandre Muller, who came as lucky loser (drafted following the withdrawal of one of the qualifiers) after losing in qualifying. In the room opposite mine, there is Quentin Halys. We must avoid opening our doors at the same time. If we ever talk to each other, we risk being fired… There is a policeman at the end of the corridor who watches the floor 24 hours a day. “

And the situation is not likely to change. From his VIP bubble in Adelaide, in another state and where he enjoys a privileged position (with Nadal, Thiem, Osaka, Halep and Serena Williams), Novak Djokovic, who had already stood out for the very controversial Adria Tour he organized in June 2020, called for more fairness. A situation to say the least paradoxical. Among the grievances of the world n ° 1: the possibility for those confined to have fitness equipment, to be able to discuss with their staff on the same floor of the hotel, to move athletes to private homes with short or a reduction of isolation according to the number of consecutive negative tests.

The bedroom as a playground

The Serb has taken a hell of a comeback. “People are free to make a list of demands, but the answer is no,” Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria, said curtly. The rules apply to players just like anyone else. They were all briefed before coming and they came on that condition. There is no special treatment because the virus does not. “

The Azarenka, Andreescu, Kerber or Nishikori will have to take their troubles patiently. And compete in ingenuity to transform their golden cell into a playground. “I’m just coming out of a period of land work that will turn to dust,” explains Alexandre Muller. The goal is to maintain as much as possible to avoid injury during the recovery. Snowshoeing cannot be forgotten. The sensations return quickly. But I won’t be able to do 20m sprints. My physical coach is in France and will send me tailor-made exercises to occupy the 5 m2 where I can exercise. “As evidenced by the many offbeat videos posted on social networks, the furniture will be put to the test …

There should be a lot less pictures, anyway, from the practice sites. To avoid exacerbating jealousy, the organizers asked those who have the right to go out for five hours a day (two on the court, two physical and one meal and transfer) not to show their “luck” .

“There are enough of the mourners”

Or almost. Because for two days, many sessions have been canceled, officially due to transport problems. Caroline Garcia, whose court was reserved for… 7:30 am with Podoroska, never left her hotel. “Obviously, we’re all a bit disgusted. But you have to know how to put things into perspective, ”notes Muller.

Victoria Azarenka, ex-world No. 1 and two-time winner in Australia, has seen others. “If you have time to whine, you have time to find a solution”, launches the Belarusian, who had had to interrupt her career for many months while she was fighting in court for custody of her son. “There are enough of the mourners. I think most players are happy to do whatever it takes to be able to play, adds New Zealand doubles specialist Artem Sitak. We were warned of the risks before coming. “

Alizé Cornet’s apologies

A way to restore the image of his playmates, that the local population begins to consider as children more than spoiled and disconnected from reality. Melbourne went through a severe 110-day lockdown until October 27, and locals abroad can only return home in small amounts due to health restrictions. Suffice to say that any “tennis” complaint is – and rightly so – badly perceived.

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With his outspokenness, Alizé Cornet had a bitter experience. The Frenchwoman received a volley of green wood after a tweet – since deleted – where she denounced a “senseless” situation and measures which “are not made to organize an international tennis event”. The world No.53 made amends. “I have to apologize to the Australian people,” she wrote. Your reaction made me understand what you went through last year and how much you suffered. All this makes me a little anxious and I would have done better to close my g… ”

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