6 Australian Open tune-up events interrupted by positive Covid-19 test

Melbourne, Australia, Feb 3 (efe-epa).- Thursday’s matches at a slew of men’s and women’s professional tennis tournaments have been postponed after a hotel worker at the Grand Hyatt in this southeastern Australian city tested positive for the coronavirus.

The suspended matches had been scheduled to be played at Melbourne Park, which also is the venue for this month’s Australian Open, the first of four Grand Slam events played throughout the tennis season.

Around 600 people at the hotel – including tennis players and officials – are considered direct contacts of the infected individual and have been told to isolate until they receive a negative test result.

One of this week’s tune-up tournaments affected by the decision is the ATP Cup, an international team event featuring nearly all of the world’s top men’s players, including Serbian world No. 1 and defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and second-ranked Spaniard Rafael Nadal.

Two members of Spain’s ATP Cup team were among those staying at the Grand Hyatt – 13th-ranked Roberto Bautista-Agut and 16th-ranked Pablo Carreño Busta.

Under Tennis Australia’s health protocols, players who are direct contacts of someone who tests positive for the coronavirus must remain isolated for 14 days.

If that requirement is strictly enforced, they then would not be eligible to compete in the Australian Open, which is scheduled to get under way on Feb. 8.

Besides the ATP Cup, matches scheduled for Thursday at two ATP Tour events (Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open) and three WTA Tour tournaments (Gippsland Trophy, Yarra Valley Classic and Grampians Trophy) also have been postponed.

Those other five tournaments also are being played at Melbourne Park.

“Thursday’s play at Melbourne Park has been canceled after a hotel worker tested positive for COVID-19 at a tournament quarantine hotel. As a consequence, play at the ATP Cup, two ATP 250 tournaments and three WTA 500 tournaments will not happen,” the ATP Tour said in a brief statement.

The WTA Tour, for its part, said “a large number of players are staying” at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne.

Tennis Australia, the sport’s governing body in that country, confirmed in the wee hours that Thursday’s matches have been postponed and said “an update on the schedule for Friday will be announced later (Thursday).”

Two teams booked berths in the ATP Cup semifinals with victories on Wednesday, with Italy (Group C) and Russia (Group D) notching 2-1 victories over France and Japan, respectively.

Assuming matches are played on Friday, defending champion Serbia will take on Germany with a spot in the semifinals on the line.

Despite Nadal’s absence due to lower back stiffness, Spain defeated Australia 3-0 in their opening Group B tie at the ATP Cup on Tuesday and had been scheduled to play their second and final round-robin match Thursday against world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas and Greece.

A win on Friday would put the Spaniards in that tournament’s final four.

While most of the top Australian Open contenders in men’s singles are playing the ATP Cup, the leading women’s stars are spread across three tournaments.

The defending Australian Open women’s singles champion, American Sofia Kenin; Australian world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty; and seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams of the United States have all advanced to the quarterfinals of the Yarra Valley Classic.

The reigning Wimbledon and US Open champions – Romania’s Simona Halep and Japan’s Naomi Osaka – are competing at the Gippsland Trophy, while 2020 US Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka of Belarus is among those in action at the Grampians Trophy. EFE-EPA


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