Ash Barty was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open but she won’t waste time wallowing as she prepares for a gruelling year after sitting out much of 2020 because of COVID-19.
Speaking before her 6-1 3-6 2-6 loss to Karolina Muchova on Wednesday, Barty’s coach Craig Tyzzer said the world No. 1 planned on playing a full schedule this year, including the postponed Tokyo Olympics, that might see her on the road until Christmas.
“Because of the quarantine arrangements here, we won’t come back for a while,” Tyzzer said of Australia’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for incoming travellers.
“We’re hoping that we’ll set up some sort of base somewhere probably in Europe where we can at least switch off.
“She’s pretty keen to play (at the Tokyo Games). We’re hoping for her that goes ahead.”
Barty stayed home in Queensland last year even once the WTA restarted, which meant she luckily avoided spending two weeks in lockdown before the Australian Open.
It remains to be seen what toll spending time in isolation will take on her should she insist on travelling around the world and undertaking a full schedule— if that’s even possible given what we’ve seen over the past two weeks.
Fellow Australian John Millman has echoed Novak Djokovic’s concerns about player health after a glut of injuries in Melbourne, placing the sport’s future under a cloud.
Djokovic blamed the mandatory 14-day quarantine for injuries at the Australian Open on Tuesday and demanded a better solution for the tennis season, suggesting NBA-style “bubbles”.
The 17-time grand slam champion is one of several players battling injury at the year’s first major, where more than 1000 competitors and officials had to quarantine on arrival in Australia.
Djokovic is carrying an abdominal problem, as is Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who was unable to play his fourth-round match on Monday. Grigor Dimitrov suffered back spasms during his quarter-final defeat by Aslan Karatsev, and Rafael Nadal also has a back problem.
Djokovic’s mid-section was all taped up after injuring his abs.Source:Getty Images
“What we are seeing is not normal. It’s not something we are used to,” Djokovic said after beating Alexander Zverev in four sets to reach the semi-finals.
“Obviously it has something to do with these kind of circumstances that we were in.”
The Serb said one idea under discussion was playing several tournaments at the same venue, much like the NBA basketball’s “bubble” solution to complete the season last year at Disney World in Florida.
“We have to find a way, whether it’s something like an NBA bubble, because I heard some players talk about that, and I don’t mind to discuss about that kind of idea,” Djokovic said.
“Select one place and we play all the tournaments on that surface and that place. You know, three, four weeks in, three, four, two, three weeks’ rest, then back again. Something like that. I don’t know.
“But we just have to discuss options, because I don’t know honestly if this is going to work.
“Talking to a lot of players, a majority of the players just don’t want to go ahead with the season if we are going to have to quarantine most of the tournaments.”
Millman lost in the first round of the Australian Open and questioned whether tennis could continue with its current quarantine restrictions.
“No contact with players for the week, only when you do a session or play against them … other than that you’re in your room?” he tweeted.
“22 day government facility quarantine if you are a close contact? Tennis insignificant in these times … but you question if it’s sustainable.”
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