Australian Open: Indian tennis players avoid early COVID scare

As many as 47 players have been forced to self-quarantine due to positive COVID-19 cases on the flights they took to Melbourne for the Australian Open 2021.

By Utathya Nag ·

Indian tennis players Sumit Nagal, Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan and Ankita Raina, who are in Melbourne for the upcoming Australian Open, have avoided the early COVID-induced chaos which has impacted the tournament. 

As tennis players from all around the globe started arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open 2021, which begins from February 8, the first Grand Slam of the year has already hit a snag. 

Till now, 47 players, including top pros like Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens and Japan’s Kei Nishikori, have been forced into mandatory quarantine after co-passengers or members of the flight crew, in two of the 17 chartered planes flying the players to Australia, tested COVID-19 positive. 

One of the flights, carrying 24 participants, was from Los Angeles while the other, flying from Abu Dhabi, was carrying 23 tennis players.

The organisers revealed that none of the players have tested positive till now. But two coaches and broadcast team members have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The two-week isolation protocol, however, is mandatory and the affected players will be restricted to training with limited equipment in their rooms during the quarantine. They can’t take advantage of the five hours per day training window sanctioned for other players.

Indian tennis players, though, have stayed clear of the COVID chaos.

Men's singles player Sumit Nagal, who got a wild card to the main draw, wasn't on either of the two flights and neither was doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna, who flew to Melbourne from Doha.

“You always want to play the first Slam of the year so there’s a bit of pressure. That’s why I was very happy to hear that I had got the wildcard this time,” Nagal said in an interview with the Mint.

Another men's doubles probable Divij Sharan and women's player Ankita Raina, meanwhile, arrived in Melbourne from Dubai on Saturday and are awaiting their results. 

Fortunately, though, no one was on any of the two flights which were affected. 

Raina, though she missed out on direct qualification to the main draw after losing her final Australian Open qualifying match, has travelled to Melbourne as one of the six lucky losers, who are on standby. She can get her chance if withdrawals happen from the main draw.