THE AUSTRALIAN Open descended into further chaos overnight as 72 PLAYERS were forced into hard quarantine.
And Kazakh star Yulia Putintseva has resorted to practicing rallies by hitting a ball against her hotel room wall.
On Saturday it was revealed 47 stars, including Britain’s Heather Watson, were unable to train during their 14-day mandatory hotel stay due to four positive Covid-19 tests on two flights.
Tournament bosses yesterday announced a travelling coach of support staff had tested positive for coronavirus on a separate Melbourne flight from Doha, Qatar – despite testing negative before travelling.
The 25 players on that plane from the Middle East, believed to be mostly qualifiers, are not allowed to exercise outside their rooms for the next two weeks.
Players subjected to locked-in quarantines have been slammed by authorities for OPENING their doors to communicate with others on their floor.
This is a clear breach of Covid-19 rules and an embarrassment to Aussie Open chiefs who has promised the tightest restrictions in the world.
Images of world No.1 Novak Djokovic laughing and smiling on an Adelaide balcony has not gone down well – fuelling feelings that the top stars are getting preferential treatment.
Tennis aces have posted videos and pictures of themselves training in their rooms to maintain optimum fitness.
The Brits have been occupied – Jo Konta has been stretching, Katie Boulter has done yoga with a view of the Melbourne skyline and Watson has run 5km!
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Steadfast Craig Tiley, the Australian Open CEO, has no intention of moving the Slam back from its revised February 8 date.
He said: “Ideally this is not what we wanted. We knew there would be risk with this pandemic. We made that clear at the beginning.
“We had 17 planes from seven different cities around the world and they were not more than 25 per cent full in case someone was positive. We hoped every flight would be okay.
“Our first objective is everyone remains healthy as possible and is not the cause of further spread within the bubble.
“We are reviewing the schedule leading in to see what we can do to assist these players.
“We are planning on February 8. We are looking forward to welcoming fans. We will continue with those dates.
“The Australian Open is going ahead and we will continue to do the best we possibly can do to ensure those players have the best opportunity.”
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