‘Players upset’ over privileges afforded to Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem

Rafael Nadal arrives in Australia

Doubles specialist Philipp Oswald has bemoaned the “much better conditions” that the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have been afforded while self-isolating in Adelaide ahead of the Australian Open.

The world’s best tennis players arrived in Australia last week ahead of the 2021 season-opening Grand Slam and the majority will be spending 14 days in self-isolation in Melbourne.

However, the top three players in the ATP Rankings – Djokovic, Nadal and Thiem – as well as the top three in the WTA Rankings, Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka, and 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams will be spending two weeks in Adelaide as they will take part in an exhibition tournament once the 14 days are over.

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Austrian Oswald is not only part of the Melbourne group, but on top of that he has been forced to quarantine for 14 days following a positive coronavirus test on the charter flight that he was travelling on.

The veteran admits players were not happy with the special treatment that some players are receiving.

“Conditions are much better in Adelaide,” he told Tennisnet.com. “First, players were allowed to take a lot more staff with them. [Daniil] Medvedev and [Alexander] Zverev, for example, were only allowed to take two people with them, while Thiem, Nadal and Djokovic each came with ten people (exaggeration, note).

“They also have a gym in their hotel. So they don’t have to do their fitness exercises during the five-hour period. You only have the five hours to play tennis.

“There was a huge discussion and the other players were also upset. It was then that Djokovic could understand that and wanted to be in Melbourne like the other players.

“One day later it was said that everything was already organised for him in Adelaide. It’s not apples and apples here, but apples and pears – and I caught the sour lemon.”

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Oswald, though, concedes that the best players “earned” special treatment under normal conditions, but the rules have changed due to COVID-19.

“The top stars are always treated better. But they earned it somewhere because they bring the money and the whole tour lives off of them,” he said.

“Normally the players have no problem with this hierarchy, because it is about Rafa or Domi practicing at the best time on Centre Court.

“Now they are allowed to practice more. It’s really unfair if you look at it objectively. But that’s the balancing act that Tennis Australia has to manage.”

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