'Nobody feels welcome,' says tennis star

Darren Walton and Shayne Hope
·2-min read

Feeling like the "enemy", American Reilly Opelka admits he probably would have skipped the season's first grand slam had he known about the tens of thousands of Australians locked out of their own country.

Opelka is the latest tennis star to cop a serve for venting his pre-Australian Open frustrations, claiming "nobody feels welcome" in Melbourne.

The world No.40 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 Opelka from taking to social media for a moan.

"Nobody here feels welcome. But its too late, I have flown across the world. Would be pointless for me to go home now three days before the AO," Opelka said when reminded he was under no obligation to compete for the record $80 million in prize money.

"Well im not going to go home after all this. I didn't realize 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."

Back-tracking after copping backlash on social media, Opelka said he didn't mean to offend anyone with his comments.

"I don't want to slam the tournament because they've put in an unbelievable effort," he told AAP following a 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) victory against world No.159 Botic van De Zandschulp in an Open tune-up at Melbourne Park on Friday.

"I think they said there are about 30,000 people now that are trying to come back. It's like, geez, that's terrible - they can't even come home.

"I completely understand why we aren't appreciated here by some people.

"Had I known this coming in, I think every player would reconsider, if I had to guess, I don't know. Not with an intent to cause harm, but with an intent of respect.

"I didn't understand there were people who have family members who can't even come home. If I was an Australian citizen, born and raised here, loved my country, I would be frustrated too.

"I just didn't understand that until I came here, unfortunately."