The world no. 1 Novak Djokovic's desire for "decent food" and other quarantine requests have been refused by the Victoria premier, Daniel Andrews, who says there will be no special treatment for Australian Open competitors.
Djokovic has reportedly issued a 'list of demands' - according to 7NEWS Melbourne - on behalf of the players quarantining in their hotel rooms ahead of the delayed Australian Open which is due to start on February 8th.
However, at the time of writing, a total of 72 players must self-isolate in their rooms for the next fortnight following positive COVID-19 test results in a handful of flights that landed in Melbourne over the last number of days. The figure impacted accounts for more than 20% of the overall field which means these participants will have less than a week to commence training ahead of the year's first grand slam.
Djokovic's apparent demands include:
- reduced self-isolating period;
- permission for these players to visit their coaches;
- players to be moved to private houses with facilities such as tennis courts provided, and;
- "decent food" befitting elite athletes.
Responding to Australian media regarding the request, Andrews said: “People are free to provide a list of demands. But the answer is no. I know that there’s been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules.
"Well, the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else, and they were all briefed on that before they came. That was the condition on which they came. There’s no special treatment here," said Andrews.
"The notion that people weren't briefed, I think that argument really has no integrity whatsoever. While the event is very important, nothing is more important than making sure we follow public health advice."
Players have expressed their deep dissatisfaction with the perceived strict rules. This has been met with little-to-no-sympathy by the Australian public as many of the country's citizens are unable to return home due to strict coronavirus protocols which have seen a low number of cases sustained in Victoria.
Vanessa Sierra, the girlfriend of the polarising Australian player Bernard Tomic, caused consternation on a YouTube video where she complained about the quarantine conditions in their hotel, voicing her distaste of the food on offer and lamenting having to wash her own hair instead of embarking on her routine salon visits.
Meanwhile, the equally controversial Nick Kyrgios has taken to Twitter on Monday, criticising Djokovic. Kyrgios has never shied away from his dislike of the reigning Australian Open champion and continued his ire toward the Serb by quote tweeting a 7NEWS Melbourne report, labelling Djokovic "a tool".
Djokovic is a tool. I don’t mind Bernie but his Mrs obviously has no perspective, ridiculous scenes 🤦🏽♂️ https://t.co/MMgeriH2GJ
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) January 18, 2021
Kyrgios reached the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open before falling to Rafael Nadal in four sets. The 25-year-old last played competitively in February at the Mexican Open before tennis was put on hiatus due to the global spread of COVID-19. Djokovic won last year's final in Melbourne, overcoming Dominic Thiem in a five-set thriller.
The pair last met in Indian Wells four years ago where Kyrgios prevailed in straight sets. Djokovic has never defeated Kyrgios on the ATP Tour.
Meanwhile, chaos continues ahead of the first major of 2021, the start of which has already been delayed by three weeks due to quarantining worries in December which are now wreaking havoc on nearly a quarter of the participants' preparations.
There are big names included among the 72 players who must remain in their hotel rooms for the next two weeks, including defending Australian Open champion, Sofia Kenin, former two-time Australian Open winner, Victoria Azarenka, the 2016 champion, Angelique Kerber, former US Open champion, Sloane Stephens, and the 2014 US Open finalist, Kei Nishikori.
Andy Murray, a five-time beaten finalist at the Australian Open, contracted the virus last week and remains at home in London but still hopes to make the finals Down Under.