Maria Sharapova Reacts To Australian Open Wild Card Announcement - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova Reacts To Australian Open Wild Card Announcement

The five-time grand slam champion received the news a day after she was knocked out of the Brisbane International.

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Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova has said it is ‘incredible’ to be in the main draw of the Australian Open again after organizers issued her with a wild card.

 

Tennis Australia confirmed on Wednesday that the Russian would be given a pass into the event. Meaning that she will not have to go through the qualifying rounds. Sharapova has endured an injury-stricken past few months on the tour due to her shoulder injury. As a result, she has spiralled down the rankings to 147th in the world. This time last year she was 30th.

“To be in the draw of the Australian Open is incredible.” Sharapova said in a statement published on ausopen.com.
“I’ve had wonderful experiences there, from holding the championship trophy to losing some very tough finals as well. There’s been a lot of ups and downs in Australia.
“So to have another chance to compete on all those courts is very special.”

The decision to award a wild card to the 32-year-old has surprised few, especially Sharapova herself. A day before the announcement, she seemed confident of receiving a pass when questioned by reporters at the Brisbane International.

Q: Are you expecting to get a wildcard?
MS: I think so, yeah.
Q: Will you play qualies if not?
MS: I think I’m going to get one.
Q: You’ve been told that?
MS: You can ask Craig Tiley. I think he knows better.
(transcript source – metro.co.uk)

Sharapova won the Australian Open back in 2008 when she defeated Ana Ivanovic in the final. Overall, she has played in the event 15 times in her career and reached the final on three other occasions. Doing so in 2007, 2012 and 2015. Since making grand slam debut in Melbourne back in 2003, she has won 57 out of 71 matches played at the major.

In her first tournament of 2020, Sharapova was narrowly edged out in the first round of the Brisbane International by Jenifer Brady. Losing 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(3), to the world No.53. The match was the first she has played since the US Open last September.

“It’s definitely not the result I would have wanted because I would’ve loved to play another match, but that’s this game,” wtatennis.com quoted Sharapova as saying afterwards.
“I think I hit, in total today, over 160 serves, which is a lot for me, considering I haven’t played in a few months.
“It was a long match. I think this is going to be a good test for my shoulder, not so much right now, but maybe tomorrow (Wednesday) and the day after to see how I feel. I definitely lost like speed on it and strength toward the end of the match, but that comes with time. I have to be patient with that.”

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th.

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Tennis Umpire Bernardes Suffers Heart Attack In Melbourne Quarantine

The well-known official is said to be ‘doing well’ after suffering a major health scare.

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Carlos Bernardes (image via Tennis World USA)

Renowned tennis umpire Carlos Bernardes was rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack inside his hotel room, according to various sources.

 

The Brazilian tennis official was staying in one of the hotels currently used for quarantine in Melbourne. A picture of Bernardes being taken to hospital in an ambulance has been posted on social media but there have been no official statement from local authorities on the situation. It is understood that he is ‘doing well’ following the medical emergency.

Australian media reported that Bernardes was in ‘hard quarantine’ which is the system used for those who have been classed as potential contact cases of people who test positive for COVID-19. At present there are 72 players in this kind of quarantine after a series of flights en route to Australia reported positive cases. Under government rules, they are not allowed to leave their room for 14 days. Others are allowed to leave their rooms for up to five hours each day.

According to Brazilian tennis official Ricardo Reis Bernardes experienced no complications and he is continuing to be medicated. Reis has issued details concerning Bernardes’ condition in a statement which has been published by Tenis Brasil.

“He had a heart attack in the morning. We are at the same hotel. When I saw the ambulance arrive, I even sent him a photo saying that someone was not well, and he said: ‘I was the one who called. I am in pain. In the chest and such,” he said.
“Luckily he called quickly and the service came too.’
“It was a heart attack, the veins was clogged. But he was medicated and he spent a few hours in the hospital taking medication. We spoke several times yesterday afternoon and evening [Wednesday, Australian time].
“”Now, in the morning [Thursday], I haven’t talked to him yet. But he was well and medicated. They were going to put on a stent, but he didn’t have to. They had the veins unblocked and etc. And he was fine. In the afternoon and at night he was fine, we talked in the afternoon and at night and everything was fine “

Bernardes is a veteran Tour official after having worked on the ATP Tour since 1990. He has taken charge of numerous high-profile men’s matches including two US Open finals in 2006 and 2008, as well as the 2011 Wimbledon final.

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Quarantine Drama: Players And Support Staff Warned For ‘Challenging Behaviour’ Amid Argument Over Rules

Officials and players are at a disagreement over the rules concerning who is deemed a ‘close contact’ of somebody who test positive for COVID-19.

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The Commissioner for COVID-19 Quarantine in Victoria says she will tolerate no rule breaking by those staying in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open after a fourth confirmed test emerged on Sunday.

 

Emma Cassar said that there have been incidents of ‘challenging behaviour’ from both players and members of their teams in relation to the rules set out. Due to the pandemic, everybody has to go into a 14-day quarantine but the process has turned more complicated following a series of positive tests by those travelling on plans funded by Tennis Australia. The latest case involves a member of the broadcast team flying from Los Angeles.

The Australian government has ruled that everybody on board a plane where somebody has tested positive for the virus must go into a stricter form of quarantine where they must remain in their room and are not allowed to train outside. This has affected more than 40 players on two different flights from Abu Dhabi and another from Los Angeles. As it currently stands 62 people have been deemed close contacts of the four cases, three of which were announced on Saturday, according to Fox Australia.

To add to the drama, Cassar has confirmed that some players and their team members have already been given a warning for what she says is ‘challenging behaviour.’ Branding their actions as ‘dangerous acts that we can’t tolerate.’

“I can give you two examples – a player who opened his door to try and have a conversation with his training mate down the hallway. Again, he’s got a phone, you can pick up the phone and use the telephone as opposed to putting you and others at risk,” she said.
“The other was another gentleman who shouted some UberEats to some other people on the floor and was praising his great efforts and opened his door to do so.
“It is very low level, but they are dangerous acts that we cannot tolerate … they have been formerly warned, and Victoria Police will continue to follow up those who haven’t been spoken to yet.”

Even more extraordinary is the confirmation that extra police have been sent to the hotels where players are quarantined. Repeat offenders have been warned they could be fined or even transferred to a ‘complexed care hotel’ where a police officer stays outside their door.

Did the players know?

In regards to the quarantine process, some have questioned the transparency of the rules which has been set out. Critics have argued that they were never informed that should someone test positive on a plane everybody on board would have to isolate for 14 days.

World No.12 Belinda Bencic has gone as far as saying that the rules have been changed upon arrival in Melbourne. A view that has also been expressed by Alize Cornet, Yulia Putintseva and Sorana Cirstea.

“We made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us. Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about,” Bencic wrote on Twitter.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has addressed those statements by saying that all players were informed that this would be a possible scenario that they would face. Leading up to the quarantine, all players and their teams should have been sent documents detailing their stay.

“The determination of who was and who wasn’t a close contact was going to be entirely up to the health department, and they’re doing what is necessary in order to keep our community safe,” he told Channel 9 TV.
“Obviously what has changed over the last several weeks is the new UK strain, which is more infectious, and there’s obviously a great desire by all of us to make sure that doesn’t come into our community.

Although the motion that the rules have changed in some capacity is disputed by Commissioner Cessar who stated that no adjustments to the policy will be made in the coming days.

“The rules of close contacts haven’t changed, and there’s no other way you can consider this. If you’re on a plane for 16 to 24 hours in air that circulates throughout the plane, you are a close contact,” she said.
“The program is set up to keep people safe. We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances.”

Whilst there are ongoing discussions concerning the scheduling of tournaments taking place during the first week of February, Tiley has confirmed that the Australian Open start date of February 8th will remain unchanged.

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24 Players In Isolation After Positive COVID-19 Tests On Australian Open Charter Flight

It is understood that Kei Nishikori and Victoria Azarenka are among those to be affected by the latest development.

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Tennis Australia has been dealt a new blow to their preparations for the Melbourne Grand Slam after it was confirmed two people tested positive for COVID-19 on one of their flights.

 

A member of the flight crew and one passenger who was on Flight QR793 from Los Angeles Airport have tested positive for the virus. It has been reported by journalist Pablo Amalfitano that the coach of Lauren Davis, Edward Elliot, is the passenger who has tested positive. Although he reportedly claims that the result is a false positive.

A total of 79 people were on the flight with 24 of those being players such as Kei Nishikori, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Alison Riske, Vaskek Pospisil and Tennys Sandgren. Sandgren did test positive prior to the fight but was given the all clear to travel after it was deemed that he was ‘viral shedding.’

Due to their possible exposure to COVID-19 Australian health officials have instructed all players to isolate for 14 days and they will not be allowed to leave their room to train in what will be a big setback to their preparations.

“The Chief Health Officer has reviewed the flight and has determined that everyone on board needs to isolate and will be confined to their rooms for the 14-day quarantine,” a leaked email sent to players read. “We know this is not how you imagined your preparations for the AO would start but our entire team is here to support you and do everything that we can to get you through this.”

News of the positive tests was first reported online by the players themselves after they uploaded a leaked email detailing what had happened before Tennis Australia had a chance to publish a statement.

“We are communicating with everyone on this flight, and particularly the playing group whose conditions have now changed, to ensure their needs are being catered to as much as possible, and that they are fully appraised of the situation,” Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley commented.
“Our thoughts are with the two people who tested positive on the flight and we wish them well for their recovery.”


Doubles specialist Artem Sitak, who was on board the plane, commented on the situation by giving an update to his followers on Instagram. The Russian-born New Zealand player is currently ranked 78th in the world and has won five ATP titles so far in his career.

“We’re all deemed close contact. I asked for a bike, so hopefully I’ll get one and stay in shape,” Sitak said. “We’ll probably be out on the 29th of January and head straight into the ATP 250 a few days after.
“Obviously not great, but that’s the risk we were all taking. They kind of warned us this was going to be at the discretion of the Australian government, Australian health authorities if something like this happened. It’s just unlucky that two of them contracted the virus.”

In a later update the 34-year-old confirmed that he has had a bike delivered to his room. |

Meanwhile, Japanese media have confirmed that all of Nishikori’s team has tested negative for the virus but the former US Open finalist will be training alone in his room.

The first series of tournaments are set to take place in Melbourne a week before the Australian Open on January 31st.

List of affected players

  • Victoria Azarenka
  • Sloane Stephens
  • Kei Nishikori
  • Tennys Sandgren
  • Nicholas Monroe
  • Santiago Gonzalez
  • Artem Sitak
  • Guido Pella
  • Alison Riske
  • Marcos Giron
  • Vasek Pospisil

Note – list is incomplete and compiled via news agencies

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