Life in COVID lockdown for biggest stars in tennis
Life in COVID lockdown for biggest stars in tennis

Inside life in Australian Open lockdown

The shock of being on a charter flight with three positive COVID-19 cases was still to come for American Nick Monroe when he walked into his room at Melbourne's View Hotel ahead of the Australian Open.

The doubles specialist's first reaction?

The view at his aptly named accommodation was the wall of an adjacent building, and he knew it was far superior on the other side.

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Monroe tried to switch rooms - knowing there were more players to arrive - but was told the government knew he was there and, besides, the whole room would need to be sanitised again.


Australian Open overseas contingent in the Pullman Hotel, Albert Park, one of the quarantine hotels. Picture: Josie Hayden
Australian Open overseas contingent in the Pullman Hotel, Albert Park, one of the quarantine hotels. Picture: Josie Hayden


It was then he realised how strict lockdown life would be, or "extreme", as he put it, ahead of the Australian Open on February 8.

The hammer blow landed the next day, when Monroe discovered he'd be watching that wall, and little else, for 14 days, because of what was initially two positive cases on his LA flight.

"It's a crazy situation, but it's all good, man - we make the best of it," Monroe told the Herald Sun.

"Obviously, (Saturday's news) was a bit of a surprise and I was a bit upset, having to be in the room for 14 days and quarantining when I knew I was negative."

The reactions from the tennis world have wildly contrasted.

There were complaints about food, outrage at fellow passengers' positive result impacting on them, and disappointment about perceived miscommunication.

On the other hand, the likes of dual Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime opted to thank tournament boss Craig Tiley and co. for the enormous effort to save the event.



A serene - and "grateful" - Stan Wawrinka posted a photo of him having a drink and preparing to tuck into a sizeable breakfast in his grand suite.



Neutral observers can understand both perspectives, although Victorians scarred from a multi-month lockdown last year are less forgiving.

Regardless, the scenario is simple: the 47 players across the two flights with positive COVID-19 cases won't be able to spend five hours outside training, as their peers can.

Instead, Pablo Cuevas and Yulia Putintseva are among those finding inventive ways to hit balls inside their hotel room.





Monroe had an exercise bike delivered to his room, and is hopeful some weights and a medicine ball will arrive later.

Another of the 47, Mexico's Santy González, has a bike and a mat for stretching exercises.

The equipment is left outside their door, then the players quickly bring it inside.

"It's day three for us and it's tough to be in a room that's not so big and you can't do much, so hopefully the days pass faster," Gonzalez said.

"After not hitting a ball or getting to go out, we're not going to be in the best shape.

"You need at least two weeks to be close to 100 per cent."

Australian husband-and-wife combination Luke Saville and Daria Gavrilova lived the 14-day hard lockdown experience after arriving home in November and October, respectively.

Saville - who made the Australian Open doubles final last year - served his in Sydney, while former top-20 star Gavrilova was in Perth in an interconnected room with fellow player Ellen Perez.

"We found things to do, but obviously didn't have the stress of having to get ready for a slam," Gavrilova said.

"We took it so slow when I came out and I can't imagine getting into match mode straight away. You can't go from zero to 100, but unfortunately that's what players might have to do."

Saville remembers struggling physically when he emerged and says he wouldn't play a warm-up event days later if he was in the lockdown 47's position.

"It's less than ideal being confined to a room, then getting out with a slam a week later, especially best-of-five (sets)," Saville said.

"Tiley explained it well. At the other tournaments around the world, the (tennis) bubble is safer than the community, whereas here in Australia, the community is the safest part."

Originally published as Inside life in Australian Open lockdown