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Australian Open Tennis 2021 Quarantine Off To Ominous Start, 47 Players And Counting Already Impacted

Sorana Cirstea of Romania, one of the 47 players impacted.

By Ricky Dimon

And you thought 11 players being impacted by Covid-19 issues at the U.S. Open was a lot….

The Australian Open is still three weeks away and 47 players are already forced to undergo a non-stop, no-practice quarantine for two weeks in Melbourne. Players have been arriving this weekend in advance of what was already a scheduled two-week quarantine, although the plan was–and still is for many–that they would be able to leave their hotel rooms for up to five hours per day for practice and training. As of Saturday afternoon, 47 (and the number seems to growing by the hour) are without that five-hour leniency for the next two weeks.

This ongoing chaos stems from positive coronavirus cases on two charter flights to Melbourne–one from Los Angeles and the other from Abu Dhabi. None of the positive tests involved players, but everyone on those flights is considered a close contact and therefore forced into a strict two-week quarantine.

Among those impacted are Bianca Andreescu (her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, was the positive case on the Abu Dhabi flight), Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Belinda Bencic, Maria Sakkari, Angelique Kerber, Dayana Yastremska, Ons Jabeur, Yulia Putintseva, Kei Nishikori, Max Mirnyi, dubs specialist Artiom Sitak and Nick Monroe , Vasek Pospisil, and Tennys Sandgren.

None of the 47 appear to be among 11 players who were close contacts of Benoit Paire when the Frenchman tested positive at the 2020 U.S. Open. Most of the 11 had already been eliminated from the tournament, but Kristina Mladenovic was forced to withdraw from doubles.

But back to the current debacle…. Putintseva apparently isn’t entirely alone in her quarantine. The world No. 187 from Kazakhstan went on social media to post a video of a mouse scurrying around her room.


Putintseva wrote the following: “Been trying to change the room for 2 hours already! And no one came to help due to quarantine situation…. They put me not in the nicest hotel like other players!”

The 26-year-old also suggested that she and others were unaware of the rule that every player on a flight in which someone else had tested positive would be forced into a hard quarantine for two weeks.

“What I don’t understand is that, why no one ever told us, if one person on board is positive the whole plane needs to be isolated. I would think twice before coming here.”

The beautiful  Sorana Cirstea is fine with the two-week quarantine–but not happy about the prospect of competing so soon after going 14 days without any tennis. There is, however, a week in between the end of quarantine and the start of the Australian Open. There are warmup tournaments the first week of February, so the 47 players will not have any time to prepare for those if they are entered. But they will, barring any additional complications, have a week of prep before the year’s first Grand Slam.

“People (are) complaining we are entitled,” Cirstea posted on Twitter. “I have no issues to stay 14 days in the room watching netflix. Believe me this is a dream come true, holiday even. What we cant do is COMPETE after we have stayed 14 days on a couch. This is the issue, not the quarantine rule.”

For Sandgren, the headache began before he even left Los Angeles. The 50th-ranked American tested positive for the virus, but he originally tested positive this past November and Victorian state health authorities determined he was no longer contagious despite still shedding viral particles. As a result, Sandgren ended up being allowed to fly to Melbourne.

The same did not apply to Andy Murray and Madison Keys, who recently returned positive tests for the first time and missed their scheduled flights as a result. Murray still hopes to make his way Down Under in time to quarantine for two weeks prior to the Aussie Open. Keys, on the other hand, has already ruled herself out of the Australian swing.

Madison Keys of the USA who tested COVID positive did not travel to Australia.

“I unfortunately tested positive for [COVID-19] before I was supposed to fly to Australia,” the 16th-ranked American wrote on social media. “I’m very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen.

“I am self-isolating at home and will continue to follow all the necessary health precautions. I look forward to being back on tour next month.”

One month may not sound like a long time. But given the current snafu that is professional tennis, the next month will probably seem like one year.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.