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Australian Open reportedly set for Feb. 8 start
The 2021 Australian Open is reportedly set to go ahead on Feb. 8, three weeks after the original Melbourne Park start date.
According to multiple sources, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley has sent an email to players, coaches and managers outlining strict conditions, including two weeks quarantine.
News Corp reported Tiley's leaked email said authorities had agreed to special conditions for players that would allow them to prepare in Melbourne for the year's first grand slam.
"It's taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO on February 8," Tiley said in an email, according to News Corp.
"Players will have to quarantine for two weeks from 15 January, but the Victorian Government has agreed to special conditions for AO participants - agreeing that they need to be able to prepare for a grand slam."
In order to train they must test negative to COVID-19 on the first day of isolation.
The players will then be tested another four times before the tournament starts.
Following two weeks of quarantine they will be free to move around the city.
Tennis Australia said late Wednesday the Victorian Government was still to sign off on the final plan.
Earlier in the day Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was committed to hosting the tournament but the situation in Melbourne was very different to the US Open in New York or French Open in Paris.
Andrew said the details of quarantine arrangements for players were still being finalised.
"Only the Australian Open is a tennis tournament in a city where it can likely be assumed that those players will bring the virus here," Andrews said on Wednesday.
"Every other grand slam (is happening where) cases are running wild.
"So we are unique in that we've built something that no one else has built across the nation ... and on that basis, we have to safeguard that, and I think we can."
Tennis Australia is also reportedly looking at re-working the prize money distribution to increase the first round purse.
With half of the players not allowed to practice until one week before the event, the is going to be a slam with some unexpected Wk1 losses.
The ones that are able/allowed to practice, will have a huge advantage: Barty, Osaka, Halep, Serena,...
"Never argue with an idiot - they take you down to their level and then beat you on experience"
"Don't wrestle with a pig: you both get dirty, but the pig actually likes it"
‘They are laughing at us’: Tennis ace rages at Australian Open and blasts Nadal & Thiem as Serb star speaks of ‘horror’ quarantine
Tennis star Guido Pella has delivered a scathing assessment of the quarantine saga at the Australian Open and admitted that he has "given up" on competing - while Viktor Troicki has called the build-up "total chaos" and "horror".
Argentine player Pella has been one of the players confined to a hotel under quarantine restrictions, and the 30-year-old is clearly feeling frustrated by a situation in which he claimed world number one Novak Djokovic's balcony was larger than his room.
While some aces have been seen hitting balls against mattresses in their rooms, experienced Pella has been surprised by what he perceives as silence from top contenders Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, although he said Djokovic had attempted to look out for the less high-profile arrivals' interests.
"The Adelaide bubble management has been a hoax," Pella told Tennis World USA. "It does not surprise me as nothing bothers me anymore, but that's the way it is, although I'm not critical of Novak, far from it.
"They are the ones who sell tickets, those who mobilize everything, they are the ones who generate business. In a normal situation, there is no problem with that.
"There is a lot of marketing here. People who can do something turn their backs on you continuously.
"Novak has shown on many occasions that he has intentions and is involved for the common good. He has fought against the Adelaide bubble since he found out that they put him there; I do not know... how, but I know he has done it.
"It [inaction from the top seeds] would give me a bit of a thing, it would give me a bit of shame. But if they can sleep soundly, then that's it. I didn't like that Nadal and Thiem didn't say anything at all."
Djokovic courted fresh controversy earlier this week when it was revealed that he had been involved with an exchange with tournament boss Craig Tilley over the possibility of easing some restrictions under certain circumstances and improving conditions for players.
"If this hadn't happened, I would have left with a positive feeling," he said. "Now all the masks have fallen off.
"Many people say one thing and do another. In a pandemic context in which everyone is asked for empathy and solidarity, that the director of the Australian Open 2021 comes out to openly recognize that preferential treatment [for leading players] and whitewash it, it seems to me that they are laughing at us in the face.
"If you only care about three players, set up an exhibition with them, but don't bring the rest of us.
"It's hard that we are here without open windows, requesting to have five minutes of fresh air, and then you see Djokovic go out to a balcony bigger than my room.
‘I genuinely care about my fellow players’: Tennis No1 Novak Djokovic hits back at critics to defend his Australian Open ‘demands’
"Regarding food, you have to try to take what they bring us, even if it is difficult. They give us the option of ordering food at home, but you get ice cream if you order something hot.
"This kills you physically and mentally. We already assume there is a favorable treatment for the best."
The 2019 French Open semi-finalist said his attitude was "better now" than it had been when he faced "something similar" at last year's US Open, but he holds little hope of being able to perform at his best when the tournament starts on February 8.
"You can go crazy if you think too much. They ask us to clean the room but we have nothing where we can throw dirty things or material to tidy everything up.
"When I leave the room, my only objective is not to get injured. I give up the competitive aspect. I can't compete on a high level after this.
"I'm grateful to the pandemic that it has allowed me to see what the people around me are like and what the world of tennis is like.
"I will step on the court to try to do well and collect the money that corresponds to me.
"What makes me angry is representing Argentina in these terrible conditions, because I know that I can't win matches."
If Pella's conclusions seem damning, Serb hopeful Viktor Troicki offered an even worse description of his experience at the qualifying event in Doha for the main draw.
The world number 202, who has performed with Djokovic in national competitions such as the ATP Cup, won three qualifying matches to make the main showpiece but regretted his decision to take part.
"If I knew, I wouldn’t have come," Troicki told Sportski Zurnal, as revealed on Tennis Now via Tennis World USA.
“Total chaos, horror as far as everything is concerned. I'm locked up for 14 days, I can't leave the room.
"No training, nothing. My Grand Slam is failing, I can't get ready for five sets in the room.
"All preparations are failing. Two weeks of lying in bed - it is certain that I will have to get back in shape for the next month and a half."
Kazakh tennis star Putintseva asked to stop ‘feeding the mouse’ after second incident in Australian Open hotel lockdown
Tennis ace Yulia Putintseva, who complained about her Melbourne quarantine conditions after again filming a mouse in her room, has been told not to feed the unwelcome guest by a local police boss ahead of the Australian Open.
The 26-year-old is among 72 players to be locked in the hotel for a strict 14-day quarantine.
She has lashed out at Australian Open organizers for imposing Covid-19 requirements that prohibit players even from leaving their rooms.
In a series of social media posts, the world number 28 has talked about the ordeal of being kept inside for two weeks with no opportunity to go outside and train.
One of her videos has also had a bombshell effect after she complained about her living conditions and filmed a mouse running around the room.
“Been trying to change the room for two hours already,” she wrote. “And no-one came to help due to the quarantine situation.”
Despite the player’s efforts, her unfortunate hotel adventures didn’t end on a positive note, as she had another unexpected encounter with a mouse in her new room.
“Different room, same story: wanted to go to sleep but noooope,” Putintseva said.
“Cool - now the reception told me the hotel is full and that they can't help. It's a joke.”
She was widely supported online, with many calling the situation “unacceptable” and praising Putintseva for her confidence in speaking out about the intolerable quarantine conditions.
Victoria’s police minister, Lisa Neville, was not among those showing sympathy for the Kazakh athlete, suggesting she must have been feeding the mouse.
“We’ve had the hotel pest-controlled this week and I think there may have been some feeding going on of the mouse,” Neville said on Wednesday.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure these rooms don’t have mice... I’d encourage them to minimize interaction with the mice and we will keep doing pest control if we need to.”
On Tuesday, Putintseva posted a protest from her hotel room, saying that players “need fresh air to breathe” and fuming over the strict quarantine rules implemented to prevent Covid cases among Australian Open participants.
Petra Kvitova @Petra_Kvitova·
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@Venuseswilliams for another great battle.
It felt so good to be back out there competing again #ausopen