MELBOURNE: Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut (pix) has apologised after criticising the Victoria state government’s quarantine requirements for tennis players ahead of next month’s Australian Open and comparing being locked down in a hotel to being in prison.
Passengers who arrived on three charter flights have been placed into hard quarantine, including more than 70 players who are unable to train outside their rooms for 14 days before the year’s first Grand Slam starts on Feb 8.
A number of top players, including world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, have questioned the need for mandatory hotel quarantine but Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said it was essential to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s like (being) in a jail,” Israeli television channel Sport 5 quoted world No. 13 Bautista Agut as saying.
“It’s the same (as being in prison), but with Wifi. These people have no idea about tennis and about practice courts and it’s a complete disaster.
“The control of everything isn’t Tennis Australia, it’s with the government (and health officials).”
Bautista Agut, who reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2019, apologised for the comments in a post on Instagram, saying they had been made in a private conversation that was released to the media without his knowledge or consent.
“Both my coach and I are following protocols designed by the Australian Government and Tennis Australia to avoid any risk and guarantee to compete again in a safe way,” Bautista Agut added.
“I thank all the people who are making playing tennis again possible.”
Czech Barbora Strycova, a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2019, backed the strict health protocols and said she was getting on with it.
“I’m exercising twice a day, reading some books, being on social (media) and watching TV,” she told SEN Breakfast.
“I can’t really complain. I really have to go through it and try to be as positive as I can be.” – Reuters