Six of the nine women’s stars that have fallen in the first two rounds of the Australian Open spent 14 days in hard quarantine.
Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, Bianca Andreescu, Maria Sakkari, Alison Riske and Elena Rybakina are the seven women who have failed to progress past the second round. Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, also made an early exit after hard lockdown.
Bianca Andreescu during her second round loss to Su-Wei Hsieh on Wednesday.Credit:Getty
But 10 of those 23 wins came against other players in hard quarantine.
Eliminate those matches, and 13 of 49 players that spent 14 days in lockdown were able to beat an opponent who was not.
The numbers aren’t as damning as one may expect but most players have expressed the same sentiment – they were never any hope of making a run beyond the first or second round.
American Tennys Sandgren chuckled in disbelief throughout his post match press conference after he was comprehensively beaten by Alex de Minaur.
“How would you imagine prepping for a hot kind of muggy day, three-out-of-five sets against a player like that, that caliber, when you can’t play tennis? You can’t go outside? You can’t. It’s impossible.
“So I played last week’s event, which probably wasn’t a good idea. It wasn’t hot, it was very mild conditions, and I played two hard three-set matches and I’ve never been more sore in my life after the second round.
“I mean, it’s just kind of a joke of preparation. But yeah. What are you going to do?”
Frenchman Benoit Paire labelled the tournament a “joke”.
Azarenka was a peacemaker of sorts during quarantine but even she struggled to contain her emotions after bombing out of the first round.
“I think the biggest impact for me personally has been not being able to have fresh air. That really took a toll. It
really took a toll for me to adjust,” she said.
“At the same time – I don’t know how to prepare after two weeks quarantine to play in six days or five days. I don’t have a blueprint of how to prepare.
“It’s all about trying to figure it out. I did not figure it out, not this time.
“Was that the best preparation for me? No. But try to sit here and find an excuse because of quarantine and this is just something that, as I said, it is what it is.
Early exit … Victoria Azarenka.Credit:Getty
“I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to perform how I knew I could.
“That’s a bit hard to accept because I knew I can play better, a lot better.
“At the same time I feel that I’ve tried everything I can to be able to be prepared, but unfortunately that hasn’t worked out for me.”
Despite the concerns of many players, the results haven’t been all bad.
American Ann Li upset 31st seed Shuai Zhang in straight sets in the first round before winning a tiebreak against Alize Cornet – who was also in lockdown – to progress to the third round in her second Australian Open appearance.
“In a way, it made me enjoy being on court more,” Li said.
“We have to go out there and have a purpose with every ball because you don’t know when we’re going to not play.
“I’m not really thinking about I was in hard quarantine. I’m just thinking about trying to play my best.”
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