Ash Barty hits back at claims of Australian Open advantage

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Ash Barty believes she won't have too significant of an advantage from being able to avoid hotel quarantine ahead of the Australian Open. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Ash Barty believes she won't have too significant of an advantage from being able to avoid hotel quarantine ahead of the Australian Open. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Exiting international tennis players have been dealt a fresh blow with heavy rain in Melbourne further hampering their Australian Open preparations.

The players are relocating to other hotels or private residences, while some quarantine hotels will convert to Australian Open hotels once cleaned.

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Spanish player Paula Badosa is the only player who tested positive since arrival and will remain in the medical hotel and will be racing the clock to be fit for the February 8 tournament start date.

Australia's world No.1 Ash Barty told AAP she didn't feel she would have an advantage despite not being under any quarantine rules.

"Obviously we have different state borders and state rules here in Australia so I don't think anyone has really had more of an advantageous kind of preparation," said Barty, who hasn't played a competitive match in almost a year.

"Everyone is doing the best that they can and as players we have to respect that and understand that it's been a really tricky time, particularly down here in Melbourne and we have to understand that we're incredibly lucky that we have an opportunity to play.

"But I know that everyone is extremely professional and when the day comes that they have to walk on court and play, they'll be ready without a doubt."

Rain disrupts training for quarantined Aus Open stars

The first groups of players left hotels on Thursday night having completed 14 days in quarantine since arriving in Melbourne on charter flights, with the process to continue until Sunday.

But those who hoped to make up for lost time on court have been hit by more bad luck with rain falling across Melbourne, and forecast to continue until 2pm Saturday.

The National Tennis Centre at Melbourne Park has eight indoor courts and is sure to be inundated with requests from players, particularly those who have been in hard lockdown, for court time.

Those 72 players, who were on board the same flights as the nine passengers who tested positive to COVID-19, have been unable to leave their rooms while others have been able to train for up to five hours a day.

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said players who had been in hard lock-down would be given priority.

"We're going to have a great deal of empathy for supporting those who have been in hard lockdown and I've already made that commitment to them," Tiley said.

"We'll look at the scheduling and availability of practice courts and practice times."

Some players were upset that their quarantine time didn't end until midnight on the final day, including outspoken American Tennys Sandgren.

The two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist had already been in the headlines after testing positive before boarding the flight from Los Angeles, but he was deemed to be "viral shedding" from an earlier infection.

"I just found out we're not going to be able to leave the room until midnight tomorrow," Sandgren posted on Instagram.

"That will put us at close to 15 days in this room - it's also another day we can't practise.

"After 16 days off we get three days hitting and then a tennis match.

"My name's Tennis Australia and I'm so cool."

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