Dominic Thiem dismisses calls for the Australian Open to be cancelled
US Open champion Dominic Thiem insists next month’s Australian Open should go ahead, even though he accepts preparations for some players will have “a serious competitive disadvantage” after being locked in their hotel rooms for two weeks of quarantine.
Thiem is not among the list of more than 70 players confined to their hotel rooms and unable to hit balls on a tennis court after they came into close contact with a handful of players and their travelling companions who tested positive for Covid-19 en-route to Australia.
There have been suggestions that the players who have been confined to their hotel will not have time to prepare for the first Grand Slam of 2021, but Thiem insists the tournament needs to go ahead despite the obvious hurdles.
“It’s very crazy times, but we knew what to expect,” last year’s Australian Open runner-up told Eurosport. “Here in Australia, it’s a bit stricter again, which is understandable. The coronavirus is almost extinct in their country and they want to prevent it from being brought back in.
“It’s very strict. We can train for about two hours a day and go out for about four hours. The rest of the time is spent in the hotel.
“Honestly, for the 70 players who were on the planes, it is of course very bitter. They will certainly be at a serious competitive disadvantage, that’s for sure. There are still nine days until the start of the Australian Open, but in contrast to the others who can train normally, this is a huge disadvantage.
“There’s no need to discuss that. It was unbelievably unfortunate for them, and I feel very sorry for them. But of course, everyone knew what they were getting into. Tennis Australia and the whole country have tried everything to let the tournament take place and that is also a sensational achievement.”
When asked whether the tournament should go ahead with so many players unable to prepare, Thiem insisted the show much go on in Melbourne.
“It sounds harsh now, but there are only 70 players in quarantine, everyone else in Melbourne can train normally, but it would be unfair to everyone else who made the long journey if the tournament were to be cancelled now,” he stated. “It was everybody’s own decision to travel here. Nobody had to do it. So, I already believe the tournament will take place.”
Thiem also reflected on his stellar 2020 campaign, that included his first major title at the US Open.
“2020 was sensational from a sporting point of view,” he added. “The feeling of winning the Grand Slam was the best I’ve ever experienced in my tennis career. I want to achieve that again. Paris is probably the big goal.
“It’s probably been my favourite tournament since my junior final and I’ve always played very well there in the last few years. It’s an absolutely overpowering opponent there, but that’s the next really big goal. Next to the other big tournaments, it’s the event that has the highest priority.”
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