‘Very bitter’: Players beginning to turn on their own in hotel quarantine furore

Tennis players have begun turning on their own over the special treatment given to the sport’s big names completing their 14 days of hotel quarantine in Australia.

The hard lockdown continues for 72 players confined to their hotel rooms in Melbourne after arriving in Australia on flights that involved a passenger testing positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia.

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has stated publicly the best players in the world are getting a “better deal” with the conditions of their accommodation — and the issue of inequality has been rumbling along all week.

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Those players in hard lockdown in Melbourne will have nine days to prepare for the Open, beginning on February 8, after completing their hotel quarantine period.

Despite news emerging on Friday Paula Badosa has become the first player to have publicly tested positive for the virus while serving her time in lockdown, players are still unhappy at the very different conditions that have allowed superstars, including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, to enjoy relaxed quarantine conditions that include two hours of practice time on court and five hours outside their accommodation in Adelaide.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia on a hotel balcony in Adelaide.Source:AFP

While Djokovic has been front and centre in pushing for better conditions for the players doing it tough in hard lockdown with public calls to relax conditions, one tennis professional has called out Nadal for failing to do the same thing.

Djokovic was this week widely criticised for his reported list of demands in a letter to Tennis Australia that included moving quarantined players into private homes with tennis courts and getting them better meals.

Australian media zeroed in on the demands, portraying them as petulant and selfish while fellow player Nick Kyrgios called him a “tool”.

Spaniard Guido Pella took a shot at Nadal for his silence in quarantine when he has been able to enjoy the relaxed conditions inside South Australia’s hotel quarantine program that has allowed him to enjoy time on the Memorial Drive court.

“Djokovic’s balcony is bigger than my room. But at least he said something,” Pella told a tennis podcast from inside his hotel room.

“I’m surprised with Nadal and (Dominic) Thiem’s silence”.

American Tennys Sandgren also took a swipe at Tiley for his comment that players “at the top of the game” would naturally enjoy the best conditions available.

“Perceived as? F*** man don’t contradict yourself in the same paragraph,” Sandgren posted on social media.

“Call a spade a spade.”

Serena Williams, Djokovic, Nadal, Thiem, Simona Halep, and Naomi Osaka are among the players quarantining in Adelaide ahead of the A Day At The Drive exhibition event.

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal arriving in Adelaide.Source:AFP

Thiem on Friday spoke publicly for the first time, telling German Sports Magazine Sportschau it is a “bitter” situation to have inequality among the players in lockdown.

“I think it is clear there’s a complete inequality of opportunity,” he said.

“All players are fresh out of their pre-season, they are in really good shape and have top fitness. If you can’t leave your room for 14 days it doesn’t matter how much fitness you do in the room, a lot of it just goes away.

“But that’s the risk we all took. It is very, very bitter and very, very unfortunate.”

Thiem also told The Guardian his relaxed quarantine in Adelaide will not be a major advantage for players when the Open begins next month.

It was reported earlier this week that grumpy players in hard lockdown are launching a “revolt” against their less luxurious conditions.

French player Jeremy Chardy also told L’Equipe: “Already they have a lot of privileges. 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.”

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