It looks as if it’s all systems go for the Australian Open next week after all players forced into a recent quarantine returned negative results, organizers announced on Friday.
Earlier this week, more than 500 Australian Open players and staff went into quarantine after a hotel worker tested positive for Covid-19, causing play to be suspended on Thursday.
But the tournament can now begin on Monday with players learning on Friday who they will face in the first round.
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Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic will play world No. 66 Jeremy Chardy, while second seed Rafael Nadal goes up against No. 56 Laslo Djere.
Djokovic, an eight-time champion in Melbourne, is in the same half of the draw as Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka and last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem.
Nadal, hoping to win his second Australian Open title, will potentially have to face Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev or Andrey Rublev if he is to reach the final.
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In the women’s draw, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty faces Danka Kovinic in the first round, and second seed and two-time grand slam winner Simona Halep plays No. 140 and home favorite Lizette Cabrera.
Serena Williams, a seven-time Australian Open champion, plays Laura Siegemund, while last year’s winner Sofia Kenin faces another home favorite in Maddison Inglis.
Williams faces a fitness race ahead of her first-round game after she withdrew from the semifinal of the Yarra Valley Classic warmup tournament with a right shoulder injury, handing Australia’s Barty a walkover to the final.
The 23-time grand slam winner also said upon arriving in Australia that the later start date had helped her recover from an Achilles injury.
Meanwhile, Nadal, who could pass Roger Federer’s tally of 20 grand slam titles in Melbourne, faces injury problems of his own with a stiff lower back keeping him out of the ATP Cup.
While much of the buildup to the Australian open has been dominated by coronavirus protocols and player quarantines, organizers will now be hopeful that the tournament can progress smoothly over the next fortnight.
The Victoria state health department announced on Friday that it had recorded zero local cases of Covid-19 from 14,612 tests.
The positive test earlier this week broke a run of 28 days with no community transmission in the state of Victoria.