Australian Open players hoping to head straight to the practice court after leaving hotel quarantine have been left sorely disappointed by Melbourne’s weather.
The first groups of players left hotels on Thursday night having completed 14 days in quarantine since arriving in Melbourne on charter flights.
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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 a deluge of rain falling across Melbourne on Friday.
The ugly weather is forecast to continue until 2pm Saturday.
The National Tennis Centre at Melbourne Park has eight indoor courts, but is sure to be inundated with requests from players - particularly those who have been in hard lockdown.
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 lockdown 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 on Friday.
“We'll look at the scheduling and availability of practice courts and practice times.”
Melbourne rain radar 🙃 pic.twitter.com/wK6hBfjZhA
— Not Cheryl Kernot (@notcherylkernot) January 29, 2021
Does the Melbourne rain radar make you feel better?
Appropriate pic as the tennis courts are also currently underwater. pic.twitter.com/tzTRHU19gg
— Steve (@Ace_Previews) January 29, 2021
— Suburbiageddon (@suburbiageddon) January 29, 2021
Complaints continue over quarantine exit delays
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.”
Georgian Oksana Kalashnikova, the women’s World number 63, was also unhappy with her scheduled departure.
She posted a meme on Twitter saying, “Why??” and wrote: “When Australian Government orders u to stay another extra day just because.”
— Oksana Kalashnikova (@OksKalashnikova) January 28, 2021
The players are relocating to other hotels or private residences, while some quarantine hotels will convert to Australian Open hotels once cleaned.
Quarantine Victoria said it had not recorded any new COVID-19 infections among the Australian Open contingent on Thursday, although there remained five active cases.
They will need to spend longer in quarantine depending on when they tested positive.
Spanish player Paula Badosa is the only player who tested positive since arrival and will remain in the medical hotel.
She will now be racing the clock to be fit for the February 8 tournament start date.
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