Friday, 16 Apr 2021

Australian Open: Quarantined British tennis star Heather Watson forced to train in hotel room

British tennis player Heather Watson has been forced to train for the upcoming Australian Open in her hotel room, after a passenger on her plane to Melbourne tested positive for COVID-19.

The 28-year-old is among 47 players competing in the first grand slam of the year who must now quarantine for 14 days following positive coronavirus tests on two different chartered flights.

Watson shared a short video on Twitter, showing her repeatedly running between her hotel room door and window as she completed a 5km run in an attempt to keep up her training.

In a separate message she confirmed that one person on her flight from Abu Dhabi had tested positive for COVID-19 on landing, meaning that all passengers now needed to quarantine.

Three people on another chartered flight from Los Angeles carrying 24 players also returned positive swabs upon their arrival in Melbourne. None of those who tested positive were players.

Grand slam champions Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, and Bianca Andreescu – whose coach Sylvain Bruneau revealed he was the source of one of the three positive tests – are also among those being forced to stay in their rooms.

El Salvador’s Marcelo Arevalo who was also on the LA flight shared a video showing him hitting shots against his mattress in his hotel room due to his enforced quarantine.

The world’s top players began arriving in Australia on a series of charter jets on Thursday ahead of a two-week quarantine period, during which they will be allowed out of their rooms to practice for five hours a day.

However, those players and support staff on the affected flights will now be confined to their rooms for a fortnight.

The players should be out of isolation before the week of warm-up events begins on 31 January, with the competition – which has already been pushed back three weeks – due to start on 8 February.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has said players will be supported in any way possible, including with the delivery of exercise equipment to their rooms.

Reports have also emerged of a positive test among the cohort of top players and their practice partners who are quarantining separately in Adelaide.

Meanwhile, former world number 1 Andy Murray’s participation at the first major of the year remains in doubt after he tested positive for COVID-19.

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He had been due to fly to Australia on an official tournament flight but is now isolating at his home in Surrey.

The fact the Australian Open has been allowed to go ahead has been hugely controversial given Victoria’s strict approach to tackling coronavirus and while thousands of Australians remain stranded overseas because of a limit on numbers allowed into the country.

So far Australia has seen 909 deaths with coronavirus, while the UK has the fifth highest death rate in the world with 88, 747 deaths.

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