Novak Djokovic has reportedly issued a list of demands for the tennis players forced into hard quarantine in the lead up to the Australian Open.
The Grand Slam tournament is in crisis three weeks before the first ball is served with 72 tennis stars isolating in hotel rooms for 14 days and unable to practice.
Five passengers across three charter flights into Melbourne carrying players, support staff and broadcast crews have now tested positive to the virus in the past week.
The infected passengers, including a flight attendant, the coach of Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu and a member of a broadcast crew, all tested negative before their flights.
Due to Australia’s strict Covid protocols, the affected players will now be confined to their hotel rooms for the next 14 days, despite initially being told they would be able to leave for five hours a day to train.
Anti-vaxxer Djokovic, who flew in with a team of 10 people to Adelaide and is not subject to the same hard quarantine, has reportedly called on Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley to fulfill a list of requests.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic (pictured in hotel quarantine in Adelaide) wants fitness and training materials in all rooms and better food for 72 tennis stars forced into hard quarantine
Djokovic is also asking for as many players as possible to be placed in private houses with a tennis court to train on
According to Spanish tennis website Punto de Break, the world No. 1 wants fitness and training materials in all rooms, decent food, and for the 14-day quarantine period to be reduced by carrying out more tests.
Djokovic is also asking for as many players as possible to be placed in private houses with a tennis court to train on.
While Tennis Australia haven’t publicly responded to the 33-year-old’s demands, he has been blasted as a hypocrite online.
‘You know who we shouldn’t be listening to about Covid protocols for a tennis tournament? Novak ‘Adria Tour’ Djokovic,’ one Twitter user wrote, referencing his decision to host a competition in Croatia and Serbia in June at the height of the pandemic.
Djokovic himself was struck down with Covid, along with his wife Jelena and a string of other high-profile players including Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric.
‘I hope Djokovic gets a true Australian answer to his letter… Yeah Nah. Last person in the world I’d be taking advice on COVID protocols,’ tweeted sport reporter Sean Callanan.
Kazakh world No. 28 Yulia Putintseva is among the players to hit out at the decision to make them go into hard hotel quarantine for 14 days
Stars from around the world were robbed of any real chance of success at the Australian Open after positive Covid tests on three charter flights into Melbourne.
Instead of practicing on court for five hours a day like their competitors, players such as Angelique Kerber and Kei Nishikori are stuffed into hotel rooms for 14 days.
Veteran Uruguayan player Pablo Cuevas filmed himself hitting a tennis ball against a mattress pressed against his hotel wall in a desperate bid to keep his touch.
Spaniard Carreno Busta has been left horrified by inedible food and forbidden to order takeaway, while Kazakhstan number one Yulia Putintseva found a mouse scampering around her room.
More players have been forced into quarantine after an infected passenger arrived into Melbourne on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha on Saturday morning
Novak Djokovic list of demands for quarantined players
- Fitness and training material in all rooms
- Decent food for elite athletes, following players taking aim at the meals on offer
- Reduce the days of isolation for players in hard isolation and carry out more tests to confirm they are negative
- Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the tests
- Grant both the player and his coach to be on the same floor of the hotel
- Move as many players as possible to private houses with a tennis court to facilitate trainin
Time is running out and more players are still to arrive who could also be thrown into hard quarantine and all but eliminated before round 1.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was repeatedly warned in November by tennis officials and star players this would happen when he dithered about player arrival dates.
As late as early December it wasn’t clear whether the tournament would even go ahead, and then it was pushed back by three weeks and procrastination continued.
Now last-minute arrival dates have left no margin for error and the number of players confined to their rooms on Sunday evening swelled to 72.
The latest plane affected was a Qatar Airways flight from Doha on Saturday morning where one passenger was infected – ruining another 25 players’ Grand Slam preparation including an Australian.
The Victorian Government is facing mounting criticism over its decision to fly in 1,200 international players and officials for the tournament last-minute.
The infections threaten to derail plans to start the Open on time after Mr Andrews pushed back the tournament by three weeks.
From political criticism to fiery tirades from cooped-up players, tournament and state government officials are facing a race against time to make the open’s planned February 8 start date.
French player Alize Cornet described the situation as ‘insane’ in a since deleted post
Mexican tennis star Santiago Gonzalez filmed a video of himself getting a Covid test inside his hotel
Australian Open stars rage over sudden hard quarantine
Tournament organisers are facing growing defiance from the 72 players who can longer go outside and train for five hours a day as previously agreed.
One player who was supposed to be isolating was caught opening his door to boast about buying food from Uber Eats for his entire floor.
Another was caught having a conversation with his training mate in his hallway, Victoria Covid quarantine commissioner Emma Cassar said.
She warned further misbehaviour from players could be punished with fines of up to $20,000.
Players including Russian world No. 28 Yulia Putintseva have also hit out at being made to spend two weeks indoors.
Former world number one and three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber is one of 47 players currently undergoing hard lockdown
Cornet said that when she agreed to the tournament, players were told that they’d be separated into sections of 10 people on their flights. If one person within that section tested positive, players were informed they would need to quarantine
Putintseva tweeted she had never been told she would have to isolate if one person on-board her flight tested positive to Covid-19.
‘What I don’t understand is that, why no one ever told us, if one person on board is positive the whole plane need to be isolated. I would think twice before coming here,’ she wrote.
Romanian world No.71 Sorana Cirstea meanwhile said she ‘would have stayed home’ had she known about the rule surrounding close contacts on their charter flight.
Swiss world No. 12 Belinda Bencic said the restrictions offered some players an unfair advantage.
‘We are not complaining to be in quarantine. We are complaining because of unequal practice/playing conditions before quite important tournaments,’ she said.
‘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.’
French player Alize Cornet described the situation as ‘insane’ in a since deleted post.
‘Soon, half of the players from the AO will actually have to isolate,’ Cornet wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
‘Weeks and weeks of practice and hard work going to waste for one person positive to Covid in a 3/4 empty plane. Sorry but this is insane.’
Cornet said that when she agreed to the tournament, players were told that they would be separated into sections of 10 people on their flights.
If one person within that section tested positive, players were informed they would need to quarantine.
But those rules have since been amended to include the rest of the plane, she claimed.
However, New Zealand doubles player Artem Sitak said players complaining about their plight should ‘put some things into perspective’ and realise how fortunate they are when 38,000 Australians still can’t get home.
‘A lot of Australians at the moment cannot get home, because of the restrictions and all that, and we as foreigners, over 1,000 people, we’re here in Australia, we’re going to be competing in a Grand Slam, earning a lot of money,’ he said.
‘We’re still lucky to be here, unfortunate circumstances with the quarantine, but that’s how it is.’
Sitak said it was made very clear to players they could be made to quarantine if anyone on their flight came into Australia carrying the virus.
A tennis player exercises in her hotel room in Melbourne on Sunday where players are quarantining for two weeks ahead of the Australian Open
A cohort of top players like Djokovic playing at an exhibition tournament in Adelaide are said to have much better conditions, which did not sit well with Austrian World No. 42 doubles player Philipp Oswald.
‘First, players were allowed to take a lot more staff with them. Medvedev and Zverev, for example, were only allowed to take two people with them,’ he said.
‘They also have a gym in their hotel. So they don’t have to do their fitness exercises during the five-hour period. You only have the five hours to play tennis. There was a huge discussion and the other players were also upset.
‘It was then that Djokovic could understand that and wanted to be in Melbourne like the other players. One day later it was said that everything was already organised for him in Adelaide.
‘It’s not apples and apples here, but apples and pears – and I caught the sour lemon.’
Anger over food and conditions inside tournament hub
Some have highlighted the sub-par food they’ve been receiving since they arrived in Australia.
Carreno Busta, the world No. 15 who arrived from Spain, shared a picture of a salad, an apple and juice cup alongside the caption ‘really?’
Italian star and world No. 17 Fabio Fognini was offered the same meal, and explained that he hoped he received something more substantial next time.
World No. 28 Benoit Paire from France opted against the quarantine meals entirely, and ordered McDonald’s delivered to his room.
Several top tier athletes including Carreno Busta and Fabio Fognini have critiqued the food they’ve received since arriving last week. Frenchman Corentin Moutet shares his meal above
As well as expressing her displeasure at the forced quarantine, Kazakhstan number one Yulia Putintseva also took issue with the hygiene inside the hub – posting a video of a mouse in her room.
Complaints have fallen on deaf ears as the Department of Justice and Community Safety Victoria sent a warning to Tennis Australia about players trying to leave their room.
TA boss Craig Tiley said players will be fined and placed in hard quarantine if they continue.
‘There are a few people who are testing our procedures and we would encourage them to remain in their rooms, again, these procedures are in place to keep people safe,’ head of Corrections Victoria Emma Cassar told the ABC.
‘When people come out of their rooms it is not just about, or that they’re wrong, it is placing them and our staff and the community at risk.
Carreno Busta, the world No.15 who arrived from Spain, shared a picture of a salad, an apple and juice cup alongside the caption ‘really?’. Italian star and world No.17 Fabio Fognini was offered the same meal, and explained that he hoped he received something more substantial next time
‘There is zero tolerance for breaches of that, I had a conversation with a Victoria Police this morning, to ensure that we are increasing our compliance and enforcement efforts and there is zero tolerance for the behaviour.’
Cassar said that there were cases of ‘challenging behaviour’ from some confined players and support staff.
She cited two cases when they opened their doors to have a conversation or shout down the hallway.
She said said despite the incidents being ‘low-level,’ the players’ behaviour is ‘dangerous’
Cassar warned they could be fined up to $20,000 or repeat offenders transferred to the complex care hotel where they have a police officer stationed outside their door.
Uruguayan tennis star stuck in hard quarantine after Covid case on his flight shows off clever hack to train
Tennis players thrust into hotel quarantine have been forced to get creative to practice for the
Pablo Cuevas is one of 47 competitors ordered into mandatory 14 day isolation after positive
Four infections have now been linked to flights from the US and Abu Dhabi, forcing players into hard quarantine, forbidden from joining others who can train outside for up to five hours a day.
But the Uruguayan world No. 68 is doing his best not let the circumstances impede his preparation for the annual Grand Slam tournament.
The 35-year-old filed himself whacking a ball against a mattress leaning against his hotel room’s wall to practice his single-hand backhands.
Cuevas posted the video of his training session to Instagram on Sunday with the caption ‘yes, I’m going crazy.’
The clip shows the sportsman jumping onto his bed and rocking his feet to edge the mattress towards the wall.
Pablo Cuevas (pictured with his wife and children) is one of 47 tennis players that have been placed into hard quarantine after positive coronavirus cases were identified on two separate charter flights into Melbourne
‘They told me that the best waves are here in Australia,’ he said in Spanish.
He then pulls out his racket and smacks a ball against the backboard substitute eight times before yelling ‘finita’, Spanish for ‘finished’.
Cuevas arrived on a flight from Los Angeles on Friday morning carrying 24 tennis players, including two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, three-time grand slam winner Angelique Kerber and 2019 US Open title holder Bianca Andreescu.
New South Wales premier takes aim at Victorian border restrictions
As her Victorian counterpart welcomed more than 1,000 foreign visitors into his state for the Australian Open, Gladys Berejiklian launched another scathing attack on Daniel Andrews over his decision to lock Sydneysiders out of the state.
The pair have been at loggerheads since Victoria closed its borders in December after a new outbreak emerged on Sydney’s northern beaches shortly before Christmas.
Ms Berejiklian reignited the war of words with another thinly-veiled swipe at Mr Andrews on Sunday, despite NSW recording six new locally-acquired cases.
The Victorian Premier has come under more fire from NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Friday)
She has repeatedly pointed out in recent weeks that NSW waited until new cases in virus-riddled Victoria reached almost 200 a day or more before closing the border last July.
Ms Berejiklian insists she hasn’t heard a word from Mr Andrews, amid speculation Victoria is considering plans to reopen the border to some Sydneysiders in the coming days.
‘He’s not been in touch with me at all but I also say that should have occurred quite a while back because we don’t have a hot spot in New South Wales,’ Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Sunday.
‘We are, of course, dealing with a result of an outbreak from a month ago, but I think everybody would agree that closing a border of such significance is a really big deal and I stress that we waited until Victoria had in excess of – I think it was 180 cases they had the day after we announced the border closure.’
‘Just to put things into perspective, those decisions are difficult ones, they affect a lot of people and I would just ask people to really think about those decisions before they’re taken.’
Easy for some
Bernard Tomic has it easier than many Australian Open players as he quarantines with his Love island star girlfriend and allowed to practice five hours a day.
After his miraculous last-ditch qualification for the Grand Slam in Melbourne, the faded star is taking every opportunity to hone his skills ahead of the first round.
The Australian player was seen on Sunday gripping an orange raquet through the window of his room at a Melbourne hotel, where he is staying with reality TV star turned OnlyFans girl Vanessa Sierra.
Former Love Island star Vanessa Sierra congratulated her tennis player boyfriend Bernard Tomic on qualifying for the Australian Open
The 28-year-old shocked spectators by winning a spot in the Open by beating fellow Aussie John-Patrick Smith in his third and final qualifying match in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday.
Tomic appeared deep in concentration as he rehearsed his moves ahead of the competition, which begins on February 8.
Sierra on Sunday night shared a video from inside their room as she flopped on to the bed, only to fall between the two twin bed that were pushed together.
‘Mandatory hotel quarantine is going great, hbu (how about you)?’ she wrote.
Sierra on Sunday night shared a video from inside their room as she flopped on to the bed, only to fall between the two twin bed that were pushed together
Pictured: Bernard Tomic practicing his tennis swing inside his room in hotel quarantine on Sunday
Andrews was warned early
Despite having many months to plan the tournament, Mr Andrews dithered for enormous amounts of time labouring over quarantine requirements.
Players and tennis officials were at red alert by late November when less than two months before the usual start date the premier hadn’t even committed to the Open actually happening.
‘It has to be done safely, it has to be done properly,’ he said at the time.
‘We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia. They are working (with) all of their partners and we’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open.’
This went on for weeks amid warnings that if everything was left to the last minute and players arrived too late they wouldn’t be the necessary practice.
Many threatened to boycott, and those who came all the way to Melbourne to train in a hotel room probably wish they had.
This week flights ferrying players, including defending champion Novak Djokovic, have arrived
Djokovic stepped in to urge Mr Andrews to promise players they could train outside for the tournament while in quarantine.
‘I hope that there is going to be support and understanding from the Victorian and Australian government for the players and for Tennis Australia and that they will allow players to compete in the second week of quarantine,’ he told reporters at the ATP Finals in London.
‘I mean, hopefully that’s going to help tremendously with the calendar and everything, and you won’t be then losing a week.
‘You will be able to have at least a tournament or two prior to the Australian Open, which for majority of the players is important.
‘Having no official match before the Australian Open, before a Grand Slam, is a huge thing.’
Alex de Minaur, an Australian star living in Spain, had his manager Andy Criag warn players could boycott if there are no lead-up tournaments or good preparation conditions.
‘If it’s not going to be a tournament held to the standard they’re used to, there’s too much disruption, and some of the bigger players can’t have their full teams with them, or the conditions aren’t ideal for preparation, they may not play,’ Mr Craig told the
‘There’s a real risk of that happening. It would be good to have some clarity this close to the tournament.’
Wrangling went on for weeks more and the tournament was pushed back three weeks.
Then there were problems with the hotel due to penthouse owners refusing to let players stay in the same building, so new ones had to be found last minute.
Now players are only arriving with three weeks to spare, making any delay to their training a disaster they may not be able to recover from.