International tennis players are free to ramp up preparations for next month’s Australian Open after completing hotel quarantine.
The first groups of players exited hotels on Thursday night having completed 14 days in quarantine since arriving in Melbourne on charter flights, with the process to continue until Sunday.
However some were upset that their quarantine time didn’t end until midnight on the final day, including outspoken American Tennys Sandgren.
He had already been in the headlines after testing positive before boarding the flight from Los Angeles, but he was deemed to be “viral shedding” from an earlier infection.
The two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist posted a video message complaining about the delay ahead of playing in the lead-in tournament next week.
“I just found out we’re not going to be able to leave the room until midnight tomorrow,” Sandgren posted on Instagram.
“That will put us at close to 15 days in this room – it’s also another day we can’t practise.
“That’s play Saturday, Sunday, Monday and play a match Tuesday.
“After 16 days off we get three days hitting and then a tennis match.
“My name’s Tennis Australia and I’m so cool.”
Some have spoken of their desire to take a long walk, have a coffee or a meal in a restaurant after the two-week hotel quarantine.
The players are relocating to other hotels or private residences, while some quarantine hotels will convert to Australian Open hotels once cleaned.
Spanish player Paula Badosa is the only player who tested positive since arrival and will remain in the medical hotel until next week and will be racing the clock to be fit for the February 8 tournament start date.
Australia’s world No.1 Ash Barty told AAP she didn’t feel she would have an advantage despite not being under any quarantine rules.
“Obviously we have different state borders and state rules here in Australia so I don’t think anyone has really had more of an advantageous kind of preparation,” said Barty, who hasn’t played a competitive match in almost a year after deciding not to travel during the pandemic.
“Everyone’s been in a different position so everyone is doing the best that they can and as players we have to respect that and understand that it’s been a really tricky time, particularly down here in Melbourne and we have to understand that we’re incredibly lucky that we have an opportunity to play.
“But I know that everyone is extremely professional and when the day comes that they have to walk on court and play, they’ll be ready without a doubt.”
© AAP 2021