When testers knock: What life is like in Australian Open hotel quarantine

Stephanie Myles had an unexpected knock on the door on Sunday morning. It was her second day of a fortnight's quarantine at the View hotel on St Kilda Road, and the Canadian tennis journalist was met by COVID-19 testers. That mightn't seem unusual, but Myles wasn't due to be tested for another couple of days.

Myles had flown in from Dubai, having travelled from Montreal to the UAE via Frankfurt, overcoming a host of logistical hurdles to become one of only a handful of overseas reporters to board one of the special tennis flights to Melbourne.

Among those on her plane were umpires, coaches and players, including 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani.

Unlike the players, Myles has had to pay for the privilege to stay in quarantine and was never going to be allowed out of her room for up to five hours of exercise and training, although she did ask if it could be permitted.

And the news delivered by the testers – who confirmed someone from the Dubai to Melbourne flight had tested positive for the coronavirus – suggests that neither will the others who were on her plane.

"There's a fourth group of players that are not going to be able to train, from what we've seen with the previous experiences," Myles said from her room on Sunday afternoon.

Myles has taken to Twitter to share her experiences from inside the room, helping pass the time through what looms as a long fortnight. She's mused about the meals on offer and pondered whether that piece of fruit in Sunday's lunch was an orange or a grapefruit.

Myles had initially hoped to head to the UAE to cover the Australian Open qualifiers but was not allowed to do so. The authorities, however, said it was too late in the piece for her to change her itinerary, so onward she headed in what has become a four-continent journey.

She was at close quarters to Ellen Perez when the Australian player was pulled from the flight to Melbourne at the last-minute, leaving Perez in Dubai after she reported a runny nose.

So the veteran journalist, a fixture at Melbourne Park, appreciates that she's done well just to get here.

"The quarantine is expensive, the flights are expensive. There's a lot of uncertainty, and the vast majority of tennis writers are freelance," said Myles.

"I'm choosing to have some fun with this because I knew it was going to suck, and it's going to suck. It's a first-world problem."

And while she understands why some Melburnians are up in arms about the Open proceeding in such circumstances, she's urged the locals to cut players some slack.

"I think that there are a lot of people here who think they are the only people who have dealt with lockdown. Certainly everyone's experience is personal and obviously, it was very rough. But we're in lockdown at home. I've lost people that I love to this thing," Myles said.

"Most of the [players] are just rank and file. They're not Serena [Williams]. They're not [Rafael] Nadal. They didn't make an income for six months last year. They're here because this is the only place there is to play tennis and they have to be there."

Myles can be a sharp critic of tennis administration but says that the organisation around the planning nightmare of a tournament has generally been excellent.

"The one thing that I would say is that people have absolutely knocked themselves out trying to make this happen," she said.

"Tennis Australia is going to get its share of criticism about this tournament – even if they pull it off. And some of will probably come from me. But the reality is that they could easily have said, 'Sorry, we have limited spots and we can't accommodate any international media on site this year'. Everyone would probably have understood. But they didn't. They busted their butts to make it happen for some of us. And it was not a simple process."

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