Saturday , March 6 2021

Stars rage after ‘rules changed overnight’

Tennis players wearing masks arrive in Melbourne from a flight ahead of the Australian Open.
The tennis stars arrive in Melbourne ready for quarantine ahead of the Australian Open. (Getty Images)

The tennis stars expressed frustration with the changes in ‘All Night’ after 47 players were banned from training for two weeks a week. A major setback for their preparations in the Australian Open.

The prelude to the tournament suffered a huge blow after passengers on two charter flights that brought them to Melbourne looked positive to Cubid 19.

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One of the positive tests was returned by Sylvan Bruno, the winner of the opening of the USA, Canada 2019, Bianca Andresco.

He said he was “sad and sorry for the results” after arriving on a flight from Abu Dhabi.

All on board the two flights, which are considered close contacts, were ordered to stay in their hotel rooms for the entire 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

This means that none of them will be allowed to train for five hours on any day agreed as part of their development for this year’s opening major, Australia Tennis said.

That included 24 players on a plane from Los Angeles, where one crew member and one other passenger, according to coach reports, tested positive.

According to local media, former Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, 2017 United States Open winner Sloane Stephens and Japanese Kay Nishikori were on board.

Twenty-three players, including Grand Slam winners Andresco, Angelique Kerber and Svetlana Kuznetsova were on a flight from Abu Dhabi.

Belinda Bencic celebrates after a point.
Belinda Bencic was one player who pointed to the frustration of the change in conditions after he arrived and was forced into quarantine. (Photo: Dean Mohtaropoulos / Getty Images)

Players took social media so in isolation and hit the ‘overnight’ rule change after landing on the news that they would be in a strict lock for two weeks.

“We are not complaining about being in quarantine,” tweeted Belinda Benchik, number 12 in the Swiss world.

“We complain about unequal training / game value before pretty important tournaments.”

Romanian Sorena Sirsta, 71, tweeted: “I planned to play in the tournament because they promised a 5-hour daily exemption in quarantine where we could train, do gym workouts and rehab. That was the deal before it was signed … but the rules changed ‘overnight’ ! “

Kazakh star Yulia Putintseva said that if it was clarified to her about the rules on charter flights, she might have chosen the tournament.

“What I do not understand is why no one has ever told us, if one person on board is positive, should isolate the whole plane, I would think twice before I get here,” she wrote on Twitter.

Sirsta agreed with the comment and also claimed that she would need three weeks of training to return to top fitness before the tournament after the dismissal.

Open Aus players react to ‘crazy’ situation

Bruno said he was tested negative within 72 hours of his flight departing from the bay and “felt just fine when I boarded.”

He insisted that he followed all the protocols while he was in the Middle East.

“I have no idea how I could get this virus.”

He added: “The rest of my team is negative and I very much hope that any further disruption will be kept to a minimum.”

French actor Elise Cornet, who is in Melbourne but was not on both planes, called the situation “crazy”.

“Soon, half of the players from the AO will indeed have to retire,” she tweeted.

“Weeks and weeks of training and hard work are going to be wasted for one positive person for Covid on a 3/4 empty plane. Sorry but that’s crazy.”

The world’s top players began arriving in Australia on Thursday for the delayed Grand Slam, which is set to kick off on February 8th.

Despite the turmoil, tennis journalist Ram Abulil noted that between the end of the quarantine and the Australian Open, it will be eight days before the players train.

Most touched on Melbourne, though the big names in the game, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, flew to Adelaide.

Everyone has to go through a 14-day quarantine, but they are allowed to go out for five hours every day to practice strict biological security bubbles ahead of a host of warm-up tournaments, all in Melbourne, the week before the Grand Slam.

Chaos in the open Australia

According to Harel Sun in Melbourne, the Los Angeles flight was the same that sparked controversy on Thursday when American tennis player Sandgren tweeted that he was allowed to board despite returning a positive test.

This was his second positive result, being diagnosed with Covid blue November 19, but health officials in the Victorian state insisted his infection was historic and he “met the strict health criteria set”.

Players were only allowed to board with proof of a negative test before departure, or with approval as a case returned at the discretion of the Government of Australia, as with Sandgren.

It was the latest failure of a tournament that spent months working on the logistical nightmares of hosting a Grand Slam during a plague, with Melbourne popping up just from lockout months in October.

The tournament has already lost several key players, with Roger Federer injured and selected world number 25 John Isner not to travel due to virus restrictions.

The big winner three times Andy Murray has tested positive for the virus and is a loner at home in London, doubting he will be able to play.

American World No. 16 Madison Keys also tested positive, and pulled out.

Meanwhile, Dominic Tim’s number three in the world arrived without coach Nicola Masso, added to notice positively, and Vandal is missing his coach Carlos Moya who decided not to go on the trip.

With AFP

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