Andy Murray’s participation in the Australian Open has been thrown into doubt after the former champion tested positive for COVID-19.
The former world No.1 was due to travel to Australia on one of the 18 charter flights laid on by tournament organisers, but is still isolating at home.
‘PLEASE EXPLAIN’: COVID-positive tennis star flies to Australia
'HE'S BACK': Tennis world stunned by Tomic development
The 33-year-old was awarded a wildcard by organisers to play in the main draw of the year’s first grand slam in Melbourne, starting February 8.
But Tennis Australia says Murray will not be able to to catch the official charter flights for the tournament after testing positive.
“Andy Murray has advised that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating at home in the UK,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.
“Unfortunately this means he will be unable to join the official AO charter flights arriving in Australia in the coming days to go through the quarantine period with the other players.
“The AO fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he'd worked for this opportunity.”
British media reports say Murray is in good health and still hopes to compete at Melbourne Park in the major, which has been pushed back three weeks because of strict pandemic health measures in Australia.
But even if Murray recovers soon it will be difficult for him to make it to Australia later as players and officials must arrive during a 36-hour window from Thursday and then serve a mandatory isolation of 14 days, as per health protocols.
The players, who will be allowed to spend five hours outside their rooms during quarantine for training purposes and will be tested daily for the virus, will then play warm-up events at Melbourne Park from January 31 before the Australian Open starts.
The first batch of players and their support staff landed in Melbourne on Thursday while top players, including Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams, arrived in Adelaide where they will isolate before playing an exhibition event.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray, currently ranked 123rd in the world, had pulled out of the season-opening Delray Beach Open in Florida earlier this month to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.
He had hip resurfacing surgery in early 2019 but made his comeback to win the Antwerp title nine months later.
Murray missed most of the 2020 season due to complications with his hip and struggled for form on his return after the COVID-19 hiatus, suffering a second-round defeat in the US Open before falling in the opening round at Roland Garros.
His latest setback left tennis fans and commentators gutted.
GUTTED for Andy Murray.
2 years ago he thought he may have played his last match in Melbourne, then made a comeback but missed last year’s AO because of an injury setback.
Now this. 😢 #tennis https://t.co/cK2c1ZDxAi
— Catherine Murphy (@CathMurphySport) January 14, 2021
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) January 14, 2021
I just cannot believe @andy_murray has tested positive for COVID-19. Honestly the man has to be the most unlucky person ever. Hope you recover well Andy. Life just really sucks!!!
— Kate Gracie (@SKatieKook) January 14, 2021
It's so upsetting 😩😩😩
— Steve E (@STEVEE61627993) January 14, 2021
Sad sad sad
Get well Andy and your family xx wish you well really do x
— Arabella Prideaux (@ArabellaPridea1) January 14, 2021
Awful news. I hope they are only mild symptoms. Wishing you a full and speedy recovery Andy xx
— Paula George (@littlepg25) January 14, 2021
Madison Keys out of Australian Open
Meanwhile, American star Madison Keys has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the Australian Open.
The World No. 16 says she returned a positive result before she was due to travel to Australia and is now self-isolating at her home.
“I'm very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen,” the 25-year-old tweeted.
Keys was a semi-finalist in Melbourne in 2015 and she made the final of the 2017 US Open.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.