Despite efforts to find a resolution after news of his positive COVID-19 test broke last week, three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has confirmed he will not be taking part in next month’s Australian Open after all – having been granted a wildcard to feature just last month.
Murray, 33, revealed his disappointment at being unable to play the new year’s first Slam – having missed six of the last ten available opportunities through troublesome hip injuries.
“We’ve been in constant dialogue… to try and find a solution which would allow some form of workable quarantine, but couldn’t make it work. I want to thank everyone there for their efforts, I’m devastated not to be playing out in Australia. It’s a country and tournament that I love.”
The former world no. 1, a five-time finalist in Melbourne, was unable to travel on a charter flight last week to enter the mandatory 14-day quarantine with the rest of the field. As mentioned in the introduction, that was because he confirmed his positive COVID-19 test last Thursday.
His mother Judy spoke to the BBC on Wednesday and was quoted as saying:
“He’s doing okay, I think he gets out today so can resume some training. And then, of course, it’s a question of waiting and seeing whether he is able to fly out to Australia and take part. Nobody knows the answer to that one yet.”
He’s been isolating at home in the UK, but strict rules set by Australia’s state government mean he will not be able to travel and complete the necessary quarantine period in time to play.
The Australian Open begins on February 8, 15 days from now.
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Organisational problems have marred the build-up to the year’s first Grand Slam, as Australia’s laws surrounding quarantine and international travel are purposely strict in the hopes they keep their COVID-19 positive numbers low.
Most players have been allowed the privilege of leaving their rooms for a four to five-hour window per day in order to train and eat, but a significant portion of other competitors are stuck inside after coming into contact with positive cases on their flights into the country.
AO boss Craig Tiley has already ruled out any schedule changing for this Slam, but said organisers were contemplating moving back the lead-up events to allow more time for those currently in a hard quarantine.
The playing field is far from level and plenty have taken to social media – either to vent frustrations, share experiences or showcase their adaptability during the unprecedented times.
“Honestly, for the 70 players who were on the planes, it is of course very bitter. They will certainly be at a serious competitive disadvantage, that’s for sure.
There are still nine days until the start of the Australian Open, but in contrast to the others who can train normally, this is a huge disadvantage.
There’s no need to discuss that. It was unbelievably unfortunate for them, and I feel very sorry for them. But of course, everyone knew what they were getting into. Tennis Australia and the whole country have tried everything to let the tournament take place and that is also a sensational achievement.”
Picture source: PA Images