As concerns grow over Andy Murray’s participation at the Australian Open after he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, Madison Keys announced on Thursday that she too has the virus and will not be playing in Melbourne.
I just wanted to let you know that I, unfortunately, tested positive for Covid-19 before I was suppose to fly to Australia. I’m very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen. I am self isolating at home and will continue to follow all the necessary health precautions. I look forward to be back on tour next month. Madison Keys
The American World No 16, who was due to fly out on a charter flight, is the latest player set to miss out on Melbourne and consequently did not board the flight.
“I just wanted to let you know that I, unfortunately, tested positive for Covid-19 before I was suppose to fly to Australia,” the 2017 US Open finalist wrote on Twitter.
“I’m very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen.
“I am self isolating at home and will continue to follow all the necessary health precautions. I look forward to be back on tour next month.”
It seems that COVID-19 spares no one, not even those who use their platforms to help combat the life-altering virus.
Last March, as the scope of the pandemic was just beginning to unfold, Keys helped to launch a nonprofit organisation, Kindness Wins, and then added Kindness in Crisis as a COVID-19 relief initiative through the same foundation.
The Australian health protocols are affecting support teams also, with Nicolas Massu, US Open champion Dominic Thiem’s coach, absent for the first few weeks of the Aussie swing after the Chilean returned a positive coronavirus test.
Thiem was on board a chartered flight from Austria to Australia and he had expected to meet up with Massu, who was flying from South America, in Melbourne.
Thiem’s father, Wolfgang, however, revealed to the media that Massu had tested positive for COVID-19 and, as a result, was not allowed to fly to Australia.
“Before we took off, we received the surprising message from Nicolas Massu that he had a positive test,” he told Austria’s Kurier daily.
“Nico will be tested again in a few days. We hope that he will be negative then and he will be able to follow suit soon.”
It remains to be seen if Massu will be allowed to link up with Thiem.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal’s coach Carlos Moya has announced that he will not be joining the 20-time Grand Slam winner Down Under because ‘the Australian government is not authorising separate travelling and arriving at the beginning of the tournament’.
“After speaking with Rafa, we have decided that I won’t travel to Australia with the team,” Moya revealed on Twitter.
“My intention was to be with the team from the beginning of the Australian Open as usual but the Australian government is not authorising separate travelling and arriving at the beginning of the tournament.
“I will follow the tournament from home and will stay with my family, parents and kids due to the delicate situation that Spain is living with the virus. Best of luck to the teams travelling.”
The state of Victoria has imposed ‘the strongest, the strictest rules’ for tennis players, not only for the two-week quarantine period, but also for the duration of the warm-up tournaments and the season-opening Grand Slam.
Players, support staff and officials are arriving by chartered flights over the next few days after which they will quarantine for 14 days before being allowed to take part in events.
Elsewhere, Denis Kudla, the American who was notified that his test results for COVID-19 came back as positive during his first qualifying match against Elliot Benchetrit in Doha, says he is experiencing mild symptoms.
“Hey everyone, I am doing fine with mild symptoms with a mild cough and I lost my taste for a few days,” Kudla said in a Twitter post. “Quarantine for 10 days until I test again and if I am positive it’s another 4 days and negative I’m released,
“The situation was unfortunate and testing could of come back sooner.
“We had no idea that the last game was being played before I was getting pulled off and as soon as it was over I was told immediately and taken to quarantine.
“I did not think I had it because I had tested negative twice before that match and felt fine.
“I am not sure where I could of gotten it but it was my 3rd test in a week,” said Kudla, who was negative on arrival in Doha.
“There are usual flaws in these bubbles we are in but the turnaround for these tests should be quicker. I received my first test within 8 hours and my second in 30 hours so big difference,” Kudla added. “I was surprised to see the gap between our 2nd and 3rd test being 4 days and the 3rd test happening on the first day qualies began.”
Kudla, ranked at No 114 in the world, hopes that the Australian Open will kick off as scheduled on 8 February.
“Finally I’m feeling fine and I’m hoping that AO runs as smoothly as possible and these situations can be avoided,” Kudla concluded.
Meanwhile, The first of about 1,200 players, coaches, entourage and officials for AO 21 landed in Melbourne late on Thursday on flights restricted to 25% capacity that are set to arrive over a 36-hour period ending early on Saturday.
They were met by airport staff and biosecurity officials wearing personal protective equipment, including masks and face shields, before being taken to hotel quarantine.
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka was among the earliest arrivals on one of the 15 charter flights bringing players and officials into the city for the first Grand Slam of the year.
Azarenka, who won the tournament in 2012 and 2013, tweeted on Friday: “Made it to Melbourne! Thank you everyone so much for making it happen. I can only imagine how many hours of work and compromise it took for us to be here! Thank you.”
Stan Wawrinka, who won the Australian Open in 2014, also posted a photo of himself and two other players, all wearing masks, from what appeared to be the business class section of one of the charters.
Elina Svitolina, a two-time quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park, posted a video of her spacious Melbourne hotel suite.
The charters and the early arrivals are all part of Tennis Australia’s attempt to make the tournament happen despite a ban on international arrivals into the country.