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‘Support and understanding’: Djokovic’s Australian Open plea to government

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Djokovic said he would do whatever was required to play in Melbourne but hoped the government could also be accommodating.

“I hope that there is going to be support and understanding from the Victorian and Australian government for the players and for Tennis Australia and that they will allow players to compete in the second week of quarantine,” Djokovic said after his 6-3, 6-3 loss to Russian Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals in London.

“I mean, hopefully that’s going to help tremendously with the calendar and everything, and you won’t be then losing a week.

“You will be able to have at least a tournament or two prior to the Australian Open, which for majority of the players is important.

“Having no official match before the Australian Open, before a grand slam, is a huge thing.”

In communications between the ATP and WTA and their players this week, the bodies advised players they were unlikely to be allowed to start quarantine until the new year. Tennis Australia has previously encouraged players to arrive in Australia in early December.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic.Credit:AP

In an email, the WTA is reported to have told its members “the government will no longer allow players and their teams to begin quarantine during the original timeframe of Dec. 8-14. The exact date of allowed arrival is still to be confirmed”.

Britain’s No.1 female player, Johanna Konta, has warned that players’ health could suffer if they are asked to go straight from a lengthy period of quarantine into a grand slam event.

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“From my perspective, my body wouldn’t be able to handle two weeks of deconditioning, and then pushing me into the deep end,” Konta told the BBC.

“I think it would make it very difficult for players to be able to compete at the highest level without risking their bodies in the process.”

Premier Andrews denied that negotiations between Tennis Australia and government and health officials had hit a “snag”.

“Whilst I mean no disrespect … I think the safety of Victorians is my priority. There’ll be some inconvenience for tennis players and their support teams for a little while longer while we finalise these detailed, detailed arrangements,” Andrews said.

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Andrews also endorsed the “bubble” concept – a feature of Tennis Australia’s detailed bio-security plans – as a key way to protect the Victorian public and tennis players from each other and vice versa, and to also protect the integrity of the Australian Open.

“In the event that there’s a positive [COVID-19] case and you’ve not been bubbling people, having people separated, then you might have to isolate half the field which would, of course, make running the tournament very difficult. For all those reasons I think that a bubble, however constructed, will be a feature,” he said.

Top 10 player and US Open finalist Alexander Zverev said players should at least be able to practise during quarantine.

“Because if we can’t even practise for 14 days and we have to go out to play the Australian Open, it’s a lottery,” said the German.

“You can basically flip a coin who wins.”

With Reuters

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