Some of the world’s top tennis players have been forced to get creative to keep their skills sharp while self-isolating ahead of the Australian Open.
Seventy-two players are having to isolate in hotel rooms ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on February 8 with warm-up events scheduled from January 31.
Forty-seven players had already been told to stay in their rooms for 14 days following positive tests for coronavirus on flights that had taken them to the country, including Britain’s Heather Watson.
And a similar situation has occurred involving a flight arriving from Doha on Saturday, with one positive case leading to isolation for 25 players.
Several players have taken to social media to show their followers how they are preparing for the Grand Slam while stuck in the same room for a fortnight.
British number one Jo Konta shared her hotel workouts, while Swiss player Belinda Bencic has been practising hitting shots against her hotel window.
Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva has been working on her forehand by smashing balls against her bedroom wall and Marcelo Arevalo, from El Salvador, has been using his mattress for target practice.
Grand slam preparation 😅 pic.twitter.com/ALvc4EugN6
— Yulia Putintseva (@PutintsevaYulia) January 17, 2021
Watson, meanwhile, shared a time lapse video of her running 5k in her hotel room.
— Heather Watson (@HeatherWatson92) January 17, 2021
Four positive cases have been recorded from the two flights that carried the initial group of 47 players.
📽️ Instagram: johannakonta pic.twitter.com/bNwbqvtix5
— LTA (@the_LTA) January 16, 2021
Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria commissioner Emma Cassar said: “It’s important to note that all the four positives all had a negative test result prior to boarding the plane.”
That was after Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley insisted players were made aware of the risks of being put into isolation on arrival in the country.
Cassar said some “low level” quarantine breaches among players had been reported, including “a player who opened his door to try and have a conversation with his training mate down the hallway”.
Wrong surface but that doesn‘t matter for us💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/R8FsdyGafy
— Belinda Bencic (@BelindaBencic) January 17, 2021
She added: “He’s got a phone, you can pick up the phone and use the telephone as opposed to putting you and others at risk. It is really low level but really dangerous acts which we just can’t tolerate.”
Tiley and his team worked for months to secure an agreement whereby players would be allowed out of their rooms for five hours each day during the two-week quarantine in order to practice and do gym work but those carefully worked plans are now in tatters.
— Samuel Begg – Tennis (@samuelbegg) January 17, 2021
And it has forced players to take desperate measures in a bid to ensure they remain in top shape heading into next month’s Grand Slam.