The season's first Major starts on February 8 in Melbourne, with many issues for both the players and organizers just a couple of days after the Melbourne gathering. The first coronavirus tests started to appear on Saturday, with three persons from two different flights from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi tested positive.
No less than 47 players from those flights are now in two-week isolation, without leaving a room or stepping on the practice court! Bianca Andreescu, Belinda Bencic, Maria Sakkari, Victoria Azarenka, Kei Nishikori, Marta Kostyuk, Paula Badosa, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Pablo Cuevas, Vasek Pospisil and Sloane Stephens are among them, and those are not the only troubles in Melbourne these days.
Many players have reported other food issues, lack of fitness equipment in their rooms and wifi troubles, turning the first days of quarantine into a complete disaster. On the other hand, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep are so far so good in Adelaide, spending their quarantine in entirely different conditions from those in Melbourne and training without problems.
That's another part of the problem, as the players who have to stay in Melbourne are not particularly happy with the double standards that the organizers performed. World no. 1 Novak Djokovic sent a letter to the Australian Open boss Craig Tiley, asking for similar conditions in both towns and demanding fitness and training materials in every room.
Novak Djokovic wrote to Craig Tiley.
Novak urged Tiley to improve the players' food and reduce the days of isolation for those 47 players, carry more tests to confirm that the players are negative and that they can visit their coaches or physical trainer.
Novak would also love to see players in the private houses with a court to train, but that is an unlikely scenario, considering all the health measures down under. "One person on the flight I was on from Abu Dhabi tested positive.
So now everyone else who was on that flight has a 14 day quarantine where we are NOT allowed out our rooms. The same happened on one of the chartered flights from Los Angeles. Two flights so far," Heather Watson wrote. "I know, and we are also playing by the rules and doing the 14 days quarantine ourselves, with just 5 hours outside per day, safe and supervised, in order to work and be ready for the AO coming up.
I just think that these measures are not made to hold an international tennis event," Alize Cornet wrote. "We are not complaining to be in quarantine. We are complaining because of unequal practice/playing conditions before quite important tournaments," Belinda Bencic wrote.
"One positive COVID-19 test has been returned from a passenger on a charter flight into Melbourne from Abu Dhabi in the past 24 hours. There were 64 people on the flight, including 23 players. All passengers from the flight are already in quarantine hotels and the positive case, who is not a player and had tested negative before the flight, has been transferred to a health hotel.
The 23 players on the flight will not be able to leave their hotel room for 14 days and until they are medically cleared. They will not be eligible to practice," Australian Open organizers stated.