Australian Open officials deliver olive branch to players locked in 14-day quarantine

An extra women’s tennis tournament catering specifically for players serving 14-day hard lockdowns in Melbourne will be added to the calendar ahead of next month’s Australian Open.

It means six tournaments will be staged simultaneously early next month ahead of the Open, which is due to begin on February 8.

There will now be three WTA 500 events with the two originally planned to run from Sunday, January 31 to Saturday, February 6 now having slightly reduced draw sizes.

The new tournament will be staged from February 3 until February 7 and will cater for players who have not been able to train.

Two ATP tournaments will be pushed back 24 hours to start on Monday, February 1 and the ATP Cup will get underway a day later.

A total of 72 players remain in hard lockdown after three chartered flights to the Australian Open returned positive COVID-19 tests.

They include former Australian Open champions Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber as well as 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu.

Unable to leave their rooms to train, the new tournament is an olive branch to athletes given the disadvantages they faced in the build up to a two-week grand slam event.

“This has been a particularly challenging time for the athletes in hard lockdown and we, along with the WTA and ATP, aim to do everything we can to help,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said.

“These changes to the lead-in events have been made to give the 72 players a little bit of extra time to help them prepare. We also will prioritise them for things like practice sessions, gym and ice baths.”

Emerging Ukranian talent Dayana Yastremska is among those locked down, but won’t feature in any tournament after her appeal to lift a doping ban was rejected on Sunday.

The world No.29 sparked controversy when she was filmed on a Tennis Australia charter flight to Melbourne for the Australian Open starting on February 8 despite testing positive to a banned substance in an out-of-competition sample.

She was then placed in a hard 14-day lockdown after a passenger on that flight returned a positive test of their own.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.