Two players competing in next months Australian Open have tested positive for COVID-19, officials confirmed on Tuesday.
An additional two cases means there are now seven confirmed cases in The Australian Open cluster. A woman in her 20s and two men in their 30s tested positive on Tuesday, with two cases being players and the third case a support staff member.
72 players are currently serving a strict hotel quarantine after there were confirmed COVID cases on three chartered flights coming into Melbourne for the event. Those players will not be allowed to leave their room for 14 days.
However, there are whispers that Tennis Australia are scrambling to organise a way in which those 72 players can leave their rooms in preparation for the event, which begins on February 8.
There have been discussions between Tennis Australia and health officials, with reports suggesting Tennis Australia have proposed a plan which would see players allocated into groups of ten - referred to as ‘mini bubbles’. The players would be allowed to leave their rooms and train with fellow players in their bubble.
In order to enter a mini bubble, players will need to return four days of negative COVID testing.
However, no coaches or team members will be allowed to accompany players - this would strictly be for players only.
There are also no guarantees players will be allowed out of their rooms for five hours. Players would be transported to tennis courts, will be allowed to train on the court and then will have to return to their shuttle bus, which will take them back to their hotels immediately.
At this stage, it’s highly unlikely that health officials will pass this proposal, but Tennis Australia are working hard to negotiate a plan which will satisfy players in strict quarantine.
Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina has withdrawn from the Australian Open after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the days leading up to his flight to Melbourne. Britain’s Andy Murray also tested positive and is yet to make a call on whether he will be flying down under for the event.
Meanwhile, Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut has slammed the Victorian government in an interview with Israeli media outlet "Sport 5".
“These people have no idea about tennis and about practice courts, and it’s a complete disaster. The control of everything isn’t Tennis Australia, it’s with the government," Bautista Agut said.
The world number 13 compared being in hotel quarantine to being behind bars: “It’s the same, but with wifi."