Men’s world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has reportedly issued a letter to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley as the shambolic arrival of overseas participants continues.
On Sunday night, a third plane with a positive COVID-19 test reportedly arrived in Melbourne as players continued to complain about the conditions in quarantine.
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But Spanish tennis website Punto de Break reported that Djokovic had called for Tiley to support the players who are being forced into the stricter quarantines.
Neither have confirmed the letter but journalist Fernando Murciego reported six proposals including:
— Fitness and training material in all rooms
— Decent food for elite athletes, following players taking aim at the meals on offer
— Reduce the days of isolation for players in hard isolation and carry out more tests to confirm they are negative
— Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the tests
— Grant both the player and his coach to be on the same floor of the hotel
— Move as many players as possible to private houses with a tennis court to facilitate training
Djokovic was the former president of the ATP Player Council but resigned to help set up the PTPA (Professional Tennis Players Association).
As the proposals began to circulate, social media was quick to remind the world that Djokovic had tested positive for COVID-19 in June after organising the Adria Tour, a tennis exhibition series in Serbia and Croatia.
It comes a day after Austrian World No. 42 doubles player Philipp Oswald, who is one of the players in hard quarantine, called out Djokovic and other players who landed in Adelaide instead of Melbourne for an exhibition tournament.
Tennisnet.com reported a Q&A where Oswald called out the tournament double standards as it was revealed on January 9 that a curtain raiser to the summer of tennis called A Day at the Drive was to be held in Adelaide on Friday January 29.
It will feature players including Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka and Djokovic, as well as two other players.
“Conditions are much better in Adelaide,” the Q&A with Oswald said. “First, players were allowed to take a lot more staff with them. Medvedev and Zverev, for example, were only allowed to take two people with them, while Thiem, Nadal and Djokovic each came with ten people (exaggeration, note).
“They also have a gym in their hotel. So they don’t have to do their fitness exercises during the five-hour period. You only have the five hours to play tennis. There was a huge discussion and the other players were also upset.
“It was then that Djokovic could understand that and wanted to be in Melbourne like the other players. One day later it was said that everything was already organised for him in Adelaide. It’s not apples and apples here, but apples and pears – and I caught the sour lemon.”
Similarly, Italian tennis journalist Luca Fiorino reported that World No. 3 women’s player Naomi Osaka deleted a photo that caused a stink with players “not very happy for the unequal treatment in relation to big players in Adelaide”.
While there have now been three flights with players forced into quarantine in Melbourne, the Australian Open Twitter page wrote on Saturday night that “SA Health has confirmed that there is no one who has an active COVID-19 infection in the entire tennis cohort based in Adelaide. Testing will continue on a daily basis.”
However, for the tennis stars in the hard quarantine, tennis journalism Jose Morgado reported there could be a bright side with a quarter of the Australian Open field set to be in a 14 day quarantine, as the organisers are reportedly scrambling to create “a bubble inside the bubble” to facilitate practice.
This has been one of the issues players have been most intensely furious about.