Australian Open: 30,000 fans allowed a day amid Covid-19

Australian Open: 30,000 fans allowed a day amid Covid-19”

World number one Novak Djokovic played only one of two scheduled sets in his opening game of the season Friday as he grapples with a nasty blister on his racquet hand ahead of the Australian Open.

Seven-time Australian Open victor Williams, who is gunning for one more Slam title to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 at next month's tournament, spent her two weeks holed up with three-year-old daughter Olympia. "But honestly I wouldn't trade anything for spending hours with her, it was really fun". And now, the time has come to play against my colleagues, to train and come what may, "he added". It was Barty's first match in 11 months due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions and her decision not to defend her 2019 title at last year's delayed French Open.

Seventy-two players, including Britain's Heather Watson, had to spend that time in "hard lockdown", having been confined to their hotel rooms as a result of positive Covid-19 tests for fellow passengers on their charter flights. She has another few days of quarantine to complete.

"That means on Rod Laver Arena, as we get to the end of the tournament, we'll have an incredible atmosphere, not that different to the atmosphere we've seen in all the Opens in years past", said Pakula. However, he later returned to play the second set.

"I am sorry that I didn't step on on the court from the beginning, I had to do some treatment with my physio", Djokovic told the crowd in a post-match interview. "I'm excited to be back".

"It's part of what we do, we learn over the years to play with the pain", Djokovic said. "That's it, I had to play".

"Just putting bare feet on the ground", he said.

More news: Israel extends lockdown, sees delay in COVID-19 turnaround

They and other players in Melbourne also began tasting freedom, but persistent rain greeted them rather than the sunshine in Adelaide.

"I think, as a whole, him having a bit of a break away from the sport - where he's positioned, for his body and mind - is a good thing", Hewitt mentioned. The others, including the ATP Cup and three WTA events, will start getting underway from Sunday.

The quarantine policy had prompted criticism from several players who were concerned about how it would impact their preparation.

More than 1,000 players and officials went into a two-week quarantine from January 14 when the first of 17 flights chartered by Tennis Australia landed in Melbourne and Adelaide.

Speaking on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, American superstar Serena Williams praised the "super intense" biosecurity rules, admitting the 14-day quarantine was challenging with a three-year-old daughter.

Tiley, who managed to defuse that criticism with long daily video calls with the players, revealed there had been some unusual requests from athletes in lockdown.

"Conditions were great for us, considering the circumstances", said Djokovic in Adelaide on Friday.

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