International tennis stars are claiming they have been blindsided by late changes to quarantine rules which have forced almost 50 players into lockdown for 14 days ahead of the Australian Open.
Players who were aboard two flights that had four positive COVID-19 cases are in hard quarantine, unable to join their colleague who can train for up to five hours a day.
A number of players have taken to social media to express their frustration at being stuck in a hotel room and not being able to properly prepare for the year’s first major, due to start at Melbourne Park on February 8.
Swiss world No.12 Belinda Bencic insisted on Twitter that the quarantine rules were changed for players on arrival.
“We made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us. Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about,” Bencic tweeted.
“We are not complaining (about being) in quarantine. We are complaining because of unequal practice/playing conditions before quite important tournaments.”
Romania’s Sorana Cirstea said she wouldn’t have come if she’d known the entire plane-load of travellers would be put into isolation because of a positive test.
“If they would have told us this rule before, I would not play in Australia. I would have stayed home,” the world No.71 tweeted.
“They told us we would fly at 20 per cent capacity, in sections, and we would be a close contact only if my team or cohort tests positive.”
She also complained that she now wanted to return home but wasn’t allowed.
However Artem Sitak, the men’s doubles world No.78 disputed the claims and said Tennis Australia told players of the risks in a conference call about a month ago.
He said not many players were on the call, when TA told them that the health authorities would make the final decision about who would go into lockdown in the event of a positive test.
Former Australian player turned coach and commentator Rennae Stubbs had little sympathy for the players, who would earn $100,000 even if they lost in the first round.
“I have opinions on these tennis players complaining about the quarantine situation here in OZ & for the Australian Open & they’re NOT going to want to hear it from me,” Stubbs tweeted.
“Its got something to do with a minimum of $100,000, free flights, food & lots more, want to talk @ me kids?”
As well as lockdown, some players have been slamming the hotel food while Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva saying she’s repeatedly asked to change rooms due to a mouse in hers.
Others seem to be making the best of the situation.
Bernard Tomic was spotted at the window of his room with his racquet in hand while one men’s player has posted a video with his bed on its side, using it as a hitting board.