Victoria Azarenka left reporters puzzled after she admitted to some frustrations after her surprise first-round loss to American hopeful Jessica Pegula at the Australian Open.
The two-time Australian Open champion was bundled out of the tournament 7-5 6-4 after being caught in hard quarantine upon arriving in Melbourne, thanks to a positive coronavirus case being detected on board her flight.
‘DON’T RUSH BACK’: Fans farewell 'quarantine sook' after early exit
Azarenka, the 12th seed, took a medical time-out while down 4-2 in the second set to deal with a breathing issue before continuing.
Reporters were caught off-guard after the match however, when Azarenka had an irritated response to a question about her medical timeout.
“I don’t really know why we’re getting asked about medical conditions,” she said.
“It shouldn’t be a mandatory requirement for people to talk about their health issues.
“I think that should be changed, unless players do want to talk about that. I feel a new and adjusted rule should be in place.”
Her response drew a quizzical reaction in some quarters, with high-profile tennis reporter Ben Rothernberg saying a question about her medical time-out was justified and labelled her response ‘somewhat surprising’.
Considering her match had to pause for an off-court medical timeout, this reaction to an entirely expected question was somewhat surprising from Azarenka.
She went all the way past "I don't want to discuss my health" to "there should be a rule change."#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/y25sIo8SVz
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) February 9, 2021
With just one match under her belt prior to the Australian Open and little to no on-court preparation thanks to her time in quarantine, Azarenka said there was no doubt the strict conditions had impacted her performance.
“Of course, it has impacted,” she said.
“The biggest impact for me personally was not being able to have fresh air.
“It really took a toll for me to adjust. I don’t have a blueprint of how to prepare.
“I did not figure it out, not this time. I guess this is a learning experience, not that I want to repeat that.”
Azarenka wouldn't reveal details of her condition but said quarantine had taken a heavy toll.
"The biggest impact for me personally has been not being able to have fresh air - it really took a toll for me to adjust," the 31-year-old said.
"At the same time it's something, like, I don't know how to prepare after two weeks' quarantine to play a match in five days - I don't have a blueprint of how to prepare.
"So it's all about, like, trying to figure it out and I did not figure it out."
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