As the days go by, Tennis Australia's decision to host Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem in Adelaide during quarantine - while the rest of the players will reside in Melbourne - appears increasingly reckless.
Philipp Oswald, a doubles player, spoke out very harshly about the unequal treatment offered by the organizers of the Australian Open. The Austrian confirmed what many had suspected from the start: the Top 3 of the ATP rankings were allowed to travel with more members in tow than their colleagues.
Oswald even wondered if the three would have taken part in the Happy Slam had they been relegated to Melbourne along with all the other players. Through their respective social accounts, numerous players complained about the relative lack of hygiene and the poor quality of the food in the Melbourne hotel, while Yulia Putintseva spotted a mouse inside her room.
Rafael Nadal showed up in Melbourne Park with five chaperones: Francisco Roig (coach), Rafael Maymo (physiotherapist), Sebastian Nadal (father), Carlos Costa (agent) and Benito Perez Barbadillo (PR Manager). Carlos Moya instead decided to stay at home with his family, as he was not allowed to travel to Australia at a later time.
Oswald on the rules in place for the 2021 Australian Open
"The top stars are always treated better," Philipp Oswald said. "But they earned it somewhere because they bring the money and the whole tour lives off of them.
Normally the players have no problem with this hierarchy, because it is about Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem practicing at the best time on Centre Court. (But) Now they are allowed to practice more. It's really unfair if you look at it objectively," Oswald added.
"But that's the balancing act that Tennis Australia has to manage. They wanted to please the top players so that they would even come. I don't know if all the players would have got on the plane if they had known that if one of the 80 passengers had a positive case, they would have to be put into a hard quarantine.
I'm also not sure if Rafa or Novak Djokovic would have come if they had the same hotel as we do." While the exact differences between the accommodations in Melbourne and Adelaide are unknown, reports suggest there is a major disparity.
The hotel rooms in Adelaide are considerably more spacious, and they also appear to be better maintained. The year’s first Grand Slam has been hit by pandemic woes even before it opens, with reports suggesting that 50 players have been put under strict quarantine without the option of training after some crew members in two chartered flights ferrying them were found to be Covid positive.
The Tennis Australia boss said that the organizers were planning on sticking to the February 8 start date for the Australian Open. Speaking to 9News of Australia, Tiley said, “We are planning on February the 8th. We do have that buffer time in there and we are looking forward to welcoming fans to the Australian Open”.