Chardy attacks decision to relax Covid-19 bubble rules for top stars

Former top-25 tennis player Jeremy Chardy attacks Tennis Australia’s decision to relax Covid-19 bubble rules for top stars including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams at Adelaide tournament before players head to 2021’s first Grand Slam

  • The game’s elite accommodated in Adelaide have the luxury of a hotel gym 
  • They are also allowed more coaching staff than those staying in Melbourne 
  • Former top-25 player Jeremy Chardy accused Tennis Australia of favouritism
  • Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin are the Australian Open defending champions

Former top-25 tennis player Jeremy Chardy has slammed Tennis Australia’s decision to give preferential treatment to some of the game’s biggest names by hosting a pre-Australian Open tournament with relaxed Covid-19 bubble conditions and smarter facilities. 

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will compete in the men’s tournament alongside US Open champion Dominic Thiem, while 23-time major winner Serena Williams will play in the women’s event along with US Open champion and World No 1 Naomi Osaka and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep. 

One unnamed player on the men’s and women’s side will make up the draw at the exhibition, which is being held at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide on January 29 and has been dubbed A Day At The Drive. 

Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams will benefit from Adelaide’s superior Covid-19 conditions 

Jeremy Chardy has hit out at the special treatment given to some of the game’s big names

However, the bubble conditions for this select group of elite players are far more comfortable than what will be enjoyed by those competing at next month’s opening Grand Slam of 2021 in Melbourne.  

Those taking part in the exhibition will arrive in Adelaide from January 14 and quarantine for two weeks before their matches, but they will be checked into a 4.5-star hotel, considerably swankier than the accommodation in Melbourne. 

Those quaratining in Melbourne will arrive two weeks before the Australian Open kicks off on February 8.  

The Melbourne group are only allowed to have two members of staff accompany them to the year’s first major and only one coach is permitted on the courts. 

The Adelaide group will meanwhile will be able to bring more staff with them to their accommodation and can be joined by their whole entourage on the courts.

To add insult to injury, the Melbourne lot have to leave their accommodation to exercise, whereas the hotel in Adelaide comes equipped with a gym.  

Novak Djokovic beat Dominic Thiem in a gruelling five-set final last year at the Australian Open

Both the Adelaide and Melbourne groups are limited to five hours a day outside their hotel rooms. 

‘This announcement for the top threes is a bit out of the blue and it’s weird, to put it mildly,’ Chardy told L’Equipe. 

‘They will even be able to benefit from a gym at the hotel and will be able to do their [gym] exercises which will not count towards the five-hour quota. Everyone can go out. They will almost be able to live normally. 

Sofia Kenin however will defend a Grand Slam title for the first time after a shock win in 2020

‘Already they have a lot of privileges,’ fumed Chardy, who is now the World No 72. ‘If they can do everything more than you, it will not be the same preparation. And that’s weird for a sport where we’re all supposed to be on the same footing.’ 

The only other players allowed in Adelaide other than those taking part in the exhibition are the designated hitting partners of those players e.g. Venus Williams, as she is the hitting partner for her sister. Adelaide can only accommodate 50 players and staff.

Djokovic goes into the Australian Open as the defending men’s champion and will look to win the event for a ninth time, while Sofia Kenin will look to double her Grand Slam titles tally when she competes in the women’s event.

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