Tennis bosses and an tournament champion have shut down Australian Open bratty players who liken torrid conditions in hotel quarantine to ‘torture’.
The order infuriated competitors who were promised they would be able to leave their room to train for five hours a day – prior to becoming close contacts.
But not all of them complained, and a two-time Australian Open winner was praised for her ‘classy’ response to the difficult news.
Victoria Azarenka took to Twitter to call for calm ahead of the February 8 Grand Slam
The two-time Australian Open winner was praised for her ‘classy’ response to the difficult news
Victoria Azarenka, 31, called for calm and reminded fellow players the city of Melbourne endured not weeks but months of punishing lockdown.
‘I would like to ask all my colleagues for cooperation, understanding and empathy for the local community that has been going through a lot of very demanding restrictions that they did not choose, but were forced to follow,’ she wrote on Twitter.
‘I would like to ask to be sensitive as well to the people who have lost their jobs and loved ones during this horrible time for all of us around the world.
‘I would like to ask all of us to have respect for people who work tirelessly to try to make our lives easier.’
‘We have a global pandemic… Sometimes things happen and we need to accept, adapt and keep moving.’
Embattled Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley replied to the Belarussian, saying her ‘words are much appreciated’.
‘It means a lot to us,’ he wrote.
The reaction of the glamorous eight-time Grand Slam winner was in stark contrast with a number of the world’s best players
The glamorous Belorussian world number 13 said ‘sometimes things happen and we need to accept, adapt and keep moving’
Mr Tiley said it was upsetting that players were taking to social media to criticise the condition rather than come to him.
‘If you’ve got a complaint come to me, blame me. Don’t go out on social media and take it out on the staff, take it out on the Melbourne community,’ he said.
‘Don’t take it out on Australia. Don’t do that. If you want to have a crack. Just come to me.’
He said two Australian Open tennis players who tested positive to Covid-19 were likely to be classified as viral shedding.
Mr Tiley said late Tuesday the two positive cases were not contagious and hence not removed from the regular player hotel.
Fiery Spanish world number 13 Roberto Bautista Agut (pictured) said it’s like jail ‘with wifi’ and called the arrangements a ‘complete disaster’
Ukrainian hitter Marta Kostyuk (pictured) compared hotel quarantine to ‘torture’
‘The acute cases that we have right now, in other words the one at the medical hotel, are six people and none of them are players,’ he said.
‘The DHHS will need to confirm that they are viral shedding but I can tell you that they’re not in the medical hotel.’
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the change in classification of any cases didn’t mean players could leave isolation early, with 72 bunkered down for 14 days.
Mr Tiley also rejected calls to shorten men’s matches at the grand slam amid player unease at the lockdown’s impact on their preparation for the tournament starting next month.
But he conceded the lockdown for some players meant preparations for the grand slam was ‘not an even playing field’ with others such as world No.1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal still allowed out for five hours practice a day.
He said they would do whatever they could to support affected players, including changing the format of the lead-in tournaments and looking at the Open draw scheduling.
‘What we need to is by the time they come out and time they play (in the Open) is elongate that as much as possible and provide the right schedule for that group,’ Tiley said.
‘We start the lead-in tournaments on 31st of January, that’s a Sunday and qualifying, and all you have to do is reduce the draw sizes and then you could start on Tuesday, for example.
‘Two or three days could make a massive difference because then players could come out and have five maybe, maybe close to six days of extra preparation.’
Some players have used social media to detail their perceived hardships of being in lockdown.
Tiley said they had tried to communicate the risk of hard lockdown but in some cases it was effectively lost in translation.
He said he held a 90-minute zoom call on Monday night with 500 players and faced the criticism.
World number one Novak Djokovic is among the Australian Open players who have been criticised for complaining about having to quarantine in hotels. Djokovic is among several players with better facilities, such as rooms with balconies. Pictured: Djokovic on the balcony of his hotel room in Adelaide, Australia on Tuesday
Some players including Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka (pictured) and Rafael Nadal were allowed to fly into Adelaide and enjoy better facilities such as hotel rooms with balconies, unlike the majority quarantining in Melbourne, who had come into contact with people who later tested positive while flying in
‘There was some big hits that we took but there were also some compliments but the most heartening thing at the end in the chat there was a scroll of thank yous from all the stars and players.
‘Sometimes the minority have the loudest voices.’
Mr Tiley defended Djokovic for appealing to Open organisers to ease restrictions in a wishlist reported on Monday, including a request to shift as many players as possible in Melbourne to private residences with tennis courts.
‘In the case of Novak, he wrote a note, these weren’t demands, they were suggestions,’ Mr Tiley said.
‘But he too is understanding what two weeks of lockdown means … every player coming down knew that if they were going to be close contacts or test positive that these were going to be the conditions.’
Djokovic’s requests were bluntly shut down by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who is desperately trying to avoid looking like he is not giving tennis stars special treatment after locking down Melbourne for months.
Many tennis stars did not share Azarenka’s conciliatory attitude, however.
Fiery Spanish world No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut said it’s like jail ‘with wifi’ and called the arrangements a ‘complete disaster’.
Ukrainian hitter Marta Kostyuk compared hotel quarantine to ‘torture’.
Some players including Storm Sanders (centre) have not been confined and are able to train under strict conditions