COVID positive test forces players out of contention
COVID positive test forces players out of contention

Aus Open quali rocked by COVID positive player

The Australian Open's qualifying tournament has been rocked by its first positive COVID-19 tests.

American Denis Kudla and Argentine Francisco Cerundolo were subsequently withdrawn from the Doha-based event despite winning their first-round qualifying matches, as per the rules.

They have since been transferred to a quarantine hotel.

The Herald Sun has contacted Tennis Australia for comment.

News of Kudla's positive test reportedly arrived while he was leading Moroccan Elliot Benchetrit by a set and 5-3.

Kudla went on to claim the next game and the match, with 221st-ranked Benchetrit later revealing he would've moved into the second round if he had won that game to keep the contest alive.

"The rule was to finish the game in progress before the match was stopped and it was during the last game of the match, so he was declared the winner," Benchetrit told Tennis Majors.

At the time of Benchetrit speaking he was yet to find out if he would be identified as a close contact of Kudla and need to quarantine for 10 days.

The 22-year-old was critical of the testing process, saying all results should be known prior to players stepping on the court.

All qualifying competitors had to return a negative test before being able to practice and the Herald Sun previously reported extensive delays in those results being returned.

Subsequent tests have also experienced longer-than-expected delays, according to German player Dustin Brown.

"The concept of a test is to have the information beforehand so as not to endanger the linesman, the opponent, or simply every person the player may meet before or after his match," Benchetrit said.

"There are also lucky losers who are waiting for a forfeit to be able to play, who made the trip for nothing.

"There is going to be a player in the third round of the qualifications having played only one match - that's also the problem."

Benchetrit believes Kudla and Cerundolo must have contracted the coronavirus in Doha, given this would have been their third test since arriving in the country.

"We use the service lifts for the staff, so as not to cross the clients," he said.

"And quite a few players suspect the hotel staff, who are not tested as regularly as we are, of being the cause of the contamination of some players. That's why more and more players are testing positive."

The turn of events is good news for 19-year-old Queenslander Dane Sweeny, who was supposed to face world No.114 Kudla in his second match, but instead scores a walkover straight into final-round qualifying.

Spain's Mario Vilella Martinez is also automatically into final-round qualifying, thanks to a walkover against Cerundolo.

Sweeny was one of seven Australian winners on day two, including Bernard Tomic, Max Purcell, Olivia Gadecki, John-Patrick Smith, Andrew Harris and Tristan Schoolkate.

Tomic and Schoolkate will clash in the second round and the winner could play Smith, who next meets Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, for a main draw berth.


Originally published as Aus Open quali rocked by COVID positive player