Tennis’ biggest stars, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams have arrived in Adelaide as they begin their mandatory two-week quarantine period ahead of the Australian Open.
The trio will feature at an exhibition event, which boasts a star-studded field, at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre on Friday 29 of January.
Fellow Grand Slam champions Dominic Thiem, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep are among those who have also signed up to ‘A Day at the Drive’.
Before they feature in the exhibition, they will undertake a 14-day quarantine period – as will their fellow stars who have flown straight to Melbourne. Around 1,200 players, coaches and officials will jet in to Australia this week.
Tournament director Craig Tiley explained why some of the game’s biggest stars will quarantine in a different state last week.
‘We’re right up to the edge on the numbers of people we’re allowed to quarantine in Melbourne so we needed some relief, so we approached the South Australia government about the possibility of them quarantining at least 50 people,’ Tiley told Tennis Channel.
‘But they wouldn’t have any interest in doing it because there’s no benefit to them to put their whole community at risk. But it would be a benefit if there was an exhibition just before Melbourne.
‘The premier there agreed to host 50 people in a quarantine bubble and have those players play in exhibitions. So we chose the top three men and top three women, and they’ll play an exhibition on January 29 and 30.’
After competing in the Adelaide exhibition, Djokovic, Nadal and Thiem are signed up to take part in the ATP Cup on February 1.
‘Unfortunately this means he will be unable to join the official AO charter flights arriving in Australia in the coming days to go through the quarantine period with the other players.
‘The AO fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’d worked for this opportunity.’
There have been strict protocols put in place by tournament organisers after months of negotiations with government officials but Murray’s hopes of flying in were boosted by some leniancy shown to American player Tennys Sandgren overnight.
The former Australian Open quarter-finalist tested positive for Covid-19 in Los Angeles but was still allowed to board one of the flights. He had contracted coronavirus in November and Victoria health authorities were satisfied he was not contagious and is instead shedding viral particles.
One superstar who won’t be involved is Roger Federer, who decided against the trip as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.
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