‘Support and understanding’: Djokovic’s Australian Open plea to government

World No.1 Novak Djokovic has called on Australian authorities to allow players to compete before the Australian Open while undertaking their mandatory quarantine period.

The first major of 2021 and the start of the new tennis year remain in limbo as the Victorian government finalises quarantine arrangements for players arriving from overseas. Players are coming to terms with the likelihood that quarantine in Melbourne can't begin until January.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic.Credit:AP

In an email, the WTA is reported to have told its members "the government will no longer allow players and their teams to begin quarantine during the original timeframe of Dec. 8-14. The exact date of allowed arrival is still to be confirmed".

Britain's No.1 female player, Johanna Konta, has warned that players' health could suffer if they are asked to go straight from a lengthy period of quarantine into a grand slam event.

"From my perspective, my body wouldn't be able to handle two weeks of deconditioning, and then pushing me into the deep end," Konta told the BBC.

"I think it would make it very difficult for players to be able to compete at the highest level without risking their bodies in the process."

Premier Andrews denied that negotiations between Tennis Australia and government and health officials had hit a "snag".

"Whilst I mean no disrespect … I think the safety of Victorians is my priority. There'll be some inconvenience for tennis players and their support teams for a little while longer while we finalise these detailed, detailed arrangements," Andrews said.

Andrews also endorsed the "bubble" concept – a feature of Tennis Australia's detailed bio-security plans – as a key way to protect the Victorian public and tennis players from each other and vice versa, and to also protect the integrity of the Australian Open.

"In the event that there's a positive [COVID-19] case and you've not been bubbling people, having people separated, then you might have to isolate half the field which would, of course, make running the tournament very difficult. For all those reasons I think that a bubble, however constructed, will be a feature," he said.

Top 10 player and US Open finalist Alexander Zverev said players should at least be able to practise during quarantine.

"Because if we can't even practise for 14 days and we have to go out to play the Australian Open, it's a lottery," said the German.

"You can basically flip a coin who wins."

With Reuters

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