Australian Open trophies
Australian Open trophies (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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

  • Tennis Australia had to defend their decision to allow Tennys Sandgren to fly after a positive test
  • Two passengers on his flight test positive on arrival, and a number of players will now be unable to practice during their quarantine
  • Madison Keys withdraws after positive test prevented her flying out to Melbourne
  • Andy Murray faces a huge challenge to make to Australia in time for the first slam of the year
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Even with over three weeks to go before the first Slam of the year, chaos and confusion reigns regarding coronavirus measures.


[table “ADPDAll” not found /]


Andy Murray faces uphill challenge to make it to the start line

Embed from Getty Images

Andy Murray announced on Thursday that he had tested positive for coronavirus, throwing his plans to take up a wildcard at the Australian Open into doubt.

Murray was set to fly out to Melbourne on chartered flights arranged by Tennis Australia within the next day and a half, but is currently in quarantine in London, and believed to be in good health. He hopes to be able to arrive later but stands no chance of competing in the warm-up events starting on 31 January.

Players have to test negative before flying on specially commissioned flights, running at 25% capacity, and will also undergo a number of tests during their 14-day quarantine in Melbourne before the first Slam of the year starts.

He would require specific permission to arrive in Melbourne late (and would have to find other means of travel outside of the Tennis Australia flights) and would still need to spend 14 days in quarantine but would still be able to practice for five hours a day during that period.

As reported by BBC Sport, Victoria State official Martin Foley is under no illusions that Murray will not be given any special treatment:

“Mr Murray, and the other 1,240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne, they have returned a negative test,” he said.

“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else. Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”


Positive tests on a charter flight leave players unable to practice

It is believed that two-time champion Victoria Azarenka was among the passengers on the flight, and that Tennis Australia will attempt to deliver exercise bikes to the players for them to train on.

Some of the affected players on that flight are:

  • Victoria Azarenka
  • Tennys Sandgren
  • Kei Nishikori
  • Guido Pella
  • Pablo Cuevas
  • Sloane Stephens (who tragically tweeted the news she had lost an aunt and her grandmother due to COVID-19




Confusion over Tennys Sandgren’s eligibility to fly

To muddy the waters still further, Tennys Sandgren was allowed to board that flight despite turning in a positive test. He boarded the charter flight, having tweeted that he had tested positive in November and again on the Monday before he was due to take his scheduled flight on Wednesday.

Tennis Australia had to step in with an official statement with regards to his case, saying that his medical file had been reviewed by the Victoria State medical authorities and they believed his test results showed he was still shedding the virus and was not contagious.


Madison Keys tests positive and misses Australian Open

While Murray might seem to want to arrive later, Keys almost certainly sounds as though she has completely ruled herself out of a last-ditch attempt to get in to Melbourne and quarantined in time to compete in the Slam, even if it means skipping the warm-up events.

The Australian Open will take place between 8-21 February.