Roger Federer’s decision to skip the Australian Open is proving to be the right one as the complaints about strict quarantine protocols continue to pile up.
Federer stunned the tennis world in December when he announced that he would not be flying Down Under for the Australian Open, saying his left knee hadn’t fully recovered after surgery.
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However it later emerged that the Swiss legend wasn’t willing to put his young family through 14 days of strict hotel quarantine in order to participate in the year’s first grand slam.
Federer was reportedly unhappy that wife Mirka and their four children would be confined to a hotel room for 14 days before the rescheduled tournament begins on February 8.
Players have been allowed out of their rooms for up to five hours per day to practise, but families are confined to full quarantine lockdown.
And if a player is deemed to have been a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19, the restrictions get even tougher and the training privileges are revoked.
Former World No.55 Andre Sa, who is Head of Player Liaison at Tennis Australia, said he spoke to Fededer in December about the quarantine situation.
“The main reason for Roger’s withdrawal was the quarantine,” Sa told Bandsports website.
“I talked to him a month ago, and he had two options.
“He could come with the whole family and quarantine. The problem is that Roger's wife Mirka, and their children, couldn't leave the room.
“They would have to stay 14 days in the room. The exception is only for players. Roger could go out, train and come back but the family couldn’t and Mirka didn't like that idea.
“The other option would be for him to go to Melbourne alone.”
Sa said Federer told him that wasn’t an option.
“In that case, there would be at least five weeks away from family and children,” the Brazilian said.
“And then he said, 'Dude, 39, four kids, 20 grand slams. I am no longer in that time to be away from my family for five weeks’.”
Federer’s decision now appears to be the right one, with complaints about the hotel quarantine conditions flying thick and fast.
Roberto Bautista Agut compared his hotel quarantine experience to prison, Yulia Putintseva was forced to change rooms after discovering mice, while Belinda Bencic expressed fears that players could get injured if they have to compete immediately following a hard quarantine.
Spanish player Paula Badosa then said she felt ‘abandoned’ by Tennis Australia after being moved to a ‘health hotel’ because she tested positive for COVID-19.
Personally I'd be happy to avoid this quarantine mess, so he should be bittersweet. Great decision by Federer to skip the Australian Open, I imagine he's thankful he's not here.
— . (@DaleKerr) January 23, 2021
You can see why Federer decided not to come as he wouldn't want to spend so long away from his family. Or having to quarantine with 4 kids.
— Budz (@budzw) January 13, 2021
#Federer's decision to stay recuperating in the Alps rather than endure quarantine under the auspices of an unsympathetic Victorian government and surrounded by whining tennis players seems a prudent one. #AusOpen
— Jamie Scott (@JCScott4) January 19, 2021
Is anyone else starting to think Federer just actually read the rules of what would happen regarding quarantine and restrictions for the Australian Open? pic.twitter.com/XkWbYJ7VIq
— Thalia (@LadyBellatrix) January 19, 2021
Players rage over fresh quarantine controversy
On Thursday the complaints continued with American player Tennys Sandgren expressing his confusion that his exit from quarantine had been delayed.
The first groups of players exited hotels on Thursday night having completed their 14 days in quarantine, with the process to continue until Sunday.
However some were upset that their quarantine time didn’t end until midnight on the final day, including the outspoken Sandgren.
He 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.
The two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist posted a video message complaining about the delay ahead of playing in the lead-in tournament next week.
“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.
“That's play Saturday, Sunday, Monday and play a match Tuesday.
“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
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