'Nobody feels welcome': Australian public turns on tennis stars

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Australian Open players, pictured here waiting for a COVID-19 test in Melbourne.
Australian Open players wait outside a hotel for a COVID-19 test in Melbourne. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Reilly Opelka says he didn’t realise until he got to Australia that it “didn’t make sense” for international tennis players to be in the country during the COVID-19 situation.

The American became the latest tennis star to cop a serve from fans for venting his pre-Australian Open frustrations on Friday, saying “nobody feels welcome” in Melbourne.

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Opelka wasn’t even among the 72 players forced into two weeks of hard quarantine and was allowed to train for up to five hours for the Open and the week-long Melbourne Summer Series preceding the season’s first grand slam.

But that didn’t stop the World No.40 from taking to social media for a moan on Friday.

“Nobody here feels welcome,” he tweeted.

“But it’s too late, I have flown across the world. Would be pointless for me to go home now three days before the AO,” he said when reminded he was under no obligation to compete.

"Well I’m not going to go home after all this.

“I didn't realise how it didn't make sense for us to be in Australia in the first place, till after I got here. Never fun being somewhere you aren’t welcome.”

Despite copping some public backlash, Opelka did receive support from Nick Kyrgios's coach Matt Reid.

“I'm happy you came Reilly,” Reid posted with an emoji of a face throwing a kiss.

Opelka’s whining comes a week after Australian Open tournament boss Craig Tiley reminded players they had the opportunity to compete for a record $80 million in prize money at the rescheduled slam.

First-round losers are guaranteed $100,000 after Tennis Australia paid the bill to fly in players from all over the world for the Melbourne major.

Reilly Opelka, pictured here in action at the ATP St Petersburg Open in October.
Reilly Opelka in action at the ATP St Petersburg Open in October. (Photo by Mike Kireev/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Play continues in Australian Open warmup events

Ash Barty headlines a group of six Australians slated to take to the court as the COVID-condensed Melbourne Summer Series of tennis re-starts on Friday under the threat of rain and heavy player workloads.

The World No.1 is first up on court in the Yarra Valley Classic in a quarter-final against American Shelby Rogers.

The Classic, and the five other tournaments being played concurrently, lost a day after a worker at a quarantine hotel tested positive for COVID-19.

Barty is scheduled to hit the doubles court shortly after but can at least rest easy in the knowledge there'll be no arduous third sets.

All WTA singles matches will now be played with a 10-point match tiebreak should they reach a decider.

There's no such joy for the men - with all five Australians having to back up for quarter-final matches on the same day should they win through their round-of-16 clashes.

with AAP

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