Tennis

‘No special treatment’ for tennis stars

Dozens of tennis stars stuck in hotel quarantine ahead of the Australian Open were told yesterday they would get no "special treatment" to leave their rooms to train, despite complaints from some players.

Australian health authorities rejected demands for tough isolation rules to be eased, as players resorted to hitting balls off windows, walls and upturned beds in the hope of being ready for the year's first Grand Slam.

The Australian Open is due to start in Melbourne on Feb 8, but its troubled build-up hit further problems after positive Covid-19 cases were detected on three of the 17 charter flights that carried players and staff.

The 72 players on the three planes have been deemed close contacts of the four coronavirus cases and barred from leaving their hotel rooms for 14 days.

Heath authorities said they discovered two more cases linked to the tournament yesterday, bringing the total for the Australian Open cluster to six.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic reportedly sent a list of demands to organisers that included allowing players to move to private homes with tennis courts.

"There's no special treatment because the virus doesn't treat you specially, so neither do we," said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, before adding that all players knew about Australia's strict quarantine rules ahead of their flights.

Over in the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers' meeting with the Oklahoma City Thunder was called off just hours before tip-off, as the Sixers did not have the league-required eight available players due to Covid-19 protocols. - AFP, REUTERS

Tennis