Normally accustomed to practicing for five hours a day in the build up to a grand slam, more than 70 tennis players are now limited to the confines of their hotel rooms as they begin the mandatory two-week quarantine in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open.
Not even able to open their hotel room doors, much less find a court to practice on, players have been getting creative with ways to workout and try and stay as close to match fitness as possible in such unusual circumstances.
Three separate charter flights into Melbourne last week each had passengers that tested positive for Covid-19, meaning everyone on board the three aircraft had to isolate on arrival, including 72 Australian Open participants.
In an attempt to make the most of less-than-ideal circumstances, Tunisia’s world No. 30 Ons Jabeur and Kazakhstan’s world No. 28 Yulia Putintseva both used the beds in their rooms as makeshift hitting partners to try and keep their ground strokes rust-free. Jabeur even posted a video of her coach running a 5k inside their hotel room.
On Saturday, Putintseva posted a video of an unwelcome guest in her hotel room, as she recorded a mouse scurrying across the floor.
Barbora Strycova, the Czech world No. 38, impressively assembled a flat-pack exercise bike to help her stay in shape, while last season’s French Open champion Iga Świątek was put through her paces with a number of innovative exercises.
Though many of the players remained in high spirits, eight-time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic put forward a list of proposals that would loosen the restrictions on the quarantining stars and make their acclimation to playing on a court easier once the self-isolation periods are over.
These included fitness and training equipment in every room, food that meets the standard of that served at the Australian Open, reducing the number of days the players are required to quarantine for, permission to visit coaches providing both have returned negative Covid-19 tests and moving as many players as possible to private houses with tennis courts.
However, with some Australians expressing frustration at the favorable treatment of players, these requests were flatly denied by the Victoria Premier, Daniel Andrews.
“People are free to provide lists of demands, but the answer is no,” Andrews said. “I know that there’s been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules.
“Well, the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else, and they were all briefed on that before they came, and that was the condition on which they came.”