The Australian Open and the organizations that govern the professional tennis circuits announced some changes in the calendar of the week before the first Grand Slam of the season, with the aim of “helping” the 72 players who are in absolute confinement in Melbourne, after having arrived in that city on flights in which positive cases of coronavirus were detected.
On the one hand, the start of the two ATP scheduled for those days and the ATP Cup was delayed. In addition, a new WTA was created, which adds to the two already planned and will be played exclusively with tennis players from that group. All without altering the date of the “big” ocean, which will start on February 8.
“After extensive consultation with players and tours, Tennis Australia designed a new schedule to provide the 72 players in strict quarantine for 14 days with the best possible preparation and training opportunities, “the Australian federation explained in a statement.
The tennis players affected by this total isolation – among which are the Argentines Guido Pella and Juan Ignacio Londero – cannot leave their hotel room under any circumstances. The rest of the contingent must also stay in the hotel rooms, although they have the chance to go out for five hours a day to train and do gym work at Melbourne Park and other courts, while negative in the tests that are routinely performed. .
In the men’s circuit, it was decided to postpone the start of the tournaments that will serve as preparation for the Grand Slam. The two ATP 250s that were scheduled to go live on January 31 will do so on February 1. Meanwhile, the ATP Cup, which will celebrate its second edition with some changes in its format, will start on the 2nd of that month, one day after the originally planned.
On the women’s side, there will be a WTA 500 that will be played between February 3 and 7, three days after the other two, which will be played from January 31. The draw for this new competition will be reserved for players who are in strict quarantine.
In that situation are, for example, the Belarusian Victoria Azarenka and the German Angelique Kerber, two former number one and former Australian champions; the canadian Bianca Andreescu, winner of the US Open 2019; and American Sofia Kenin, who won the title in Melbourne last year.
“This is a particularly tough time for athletes in absolute isolation and we, together with the ATP and the WTA, aim to do everything we can to help them,” she said. Craig tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia and the main person in charge of the Grand Slam.
“These changes to the events leading up to our big tournament are aimed at giving those 72 players a little extra time to help them prepare. We will also prioritize other aspects such as practice sessions, gym sessions and ice baths.” added.
The confined tennis players, who arrived in Australia a little more than a week ago on charter flights contracted by the organization, will be able to leave their rooms between Friday and Saturday, provided that the controls that they do periodically continue to give negative.
In recent days, many showed on their social networks videos and photos of how they were adapting their workouts to the limits of their rooms, taking advantage of the mattresses to train their shots and the reduced spaces of the rooms to perform physical exercises with ropes, weights and others elements. However, the intensity of these jobs does not compare with that of their usual routines.
The new women’s tournament will give players the chance to compete on a more level and fair “ground”, with rivals who have been through the same situation in the last two weeks. And in the case of men, they will have a couple more days to get in shape and regain rhythm, so as not to be so at a disadvantage compared to their colleagues who have already been able to restart training on the court.