Craig Tiley CEO of Tennis Australia, at the 2020 launch of the Australian Open, Melbourne
Craig Tiley CEO of Tennis Australia, at the 2020 launch of the Australian Open, Melbourne | (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Tennis | Australian Open 2021 | Craig Tiley talks to media as Slam plans unravel with players in hard lockdown

  • UPDATED: 72 players will serve the same hard lockdown as any Melbourne arrivals after positive tests come in from the charter flights commissioned by Tennis Australia
  • Adelaide privileges beginning to make tensions high
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – CEO of Tennis Australia talked to media after a day of chaos as positive tests from incoming charter flights put 47 players in hard lockdown.


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Just as the mandatory 14-day quarantine period begins, plans are being thrown into chaos as subsequent tests on arrival have identified three positive tests on incoming charter flights.

READ MORE | Tennis | Australian Open | Coronavirus concerns over flight positive tests, Keys out and Murray faces challenge to take part


Craig Tiley talks to media about the evolving situation to 9News in Melbourne


US to Melbourne

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A member of the air-crew and a coach tested positive on their arrival into Melbourne.

Key players believed to be affected on this flight include:
• Victoria Azarenka
• Tennys Sandgren
• Kei Nishikori
• Guido Pella
• Pablo Cuevas
• Sloane Stephens


Abu Dhabi to Melbourne

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It has now been revealed that Bianca Andreescu’s coach Sylvain Bruneau tested positive on arrival.

Key players believed to be affected on this flight include:
• Bianca Andreescu
• Angelique Kerber
• Svetlana Kuznetsova
• Ons Jabeur
• Marta Kostyuk
• Belinda Bencic
• Maria Sakkari
• Heather Watson

On the WTA side, these players are on the extended entry list for the two WTA 500 events as warm-ups – the Gippsland Trophy and Yarra Valley Classic, and the plan was to split the entry list for the two tournaments.

Also affected will be arrangements for players to practice with each other – for example Watson was to practice in the first week with Johanna Konta and in the second week they were combining with Petra Kvitova and Amanda Anisimova.


UPDATE: Doha flight also records a positive test


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Meanwhile – in Adelaide, Tennis SA confirmed that a curtain raiser would take place with players arriving from January 14 and undergoing mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

Players include:
• Novak Djokovic
• Rafael Nadal
• Serena Williams
• Naomi Osaka
• Simona Halep
• Dominic Thiem

There has already been unrest with regards to the sizes of their entourages compared to the more limited numbers of players and coaches flying into Melbourne and the flight into Adelaide was not immune.

If matters were not bad enough – we all know about the many kinds of spiders you might encounter in Australia – as Lauren Davis found out (h/t Matt Roberts/Twitter)


Coronavirus in Australia – Key Facts to remember

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Australia, the State of Victoria and Melbourne have contained the virus by a very strict lockdown procedure. The inhabitants of the state and city have endured a lot of hardship, people are continuing to die from the evolving strain, and many livelihoods have been lost.

So understandably there is also a degree of annoyance – players (prior to the news of positive tests and lockdowns) had been posting about the standard of their lunch, and meeting with a lot of criticism by fans, and some pundits given the efforts that Tennis Australia were going to in order to try and put a Slam on.

But there has seemed to be a constant conflict between what Tennis Australia wanted to offer, and what the State of Victoria could feasibly allow, given we are still in the grip of a global pandemic.

Many Australians cannot get home because of the very strict regulations about entry into Australia, so over a thousand sports people, their teams and officials flying in, being put up for free in hotels and then complaining about food has garnered very little sympathy.


READ MORE | While you’re in it, try and read the room


On the flip side of the coin, Marta Kostyuk and Paula Badosa also point out the kinds of criticism players face from tennis gamblers who lose, and how playing after two weeks of no conditioning will lead to challenges (h/t Ben Rothenberg/Twitter)

The Australian Open could be the most open-ended contest given the task now faced by the organisers to allow players to prepare to compete in the first Slam of the year – indeed if it can go ahead at all.

The Australian Open is scheduled to take place between 8-21 February.


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