On Friday night World No. 12, Belinda Bencic, virtually addressed the media with the help of her spotty internet from her shared hotel room with her boyfriend and fitness coach in Melbourne. It seems that IMG Tennis Vice President, (as well as Bencic's manager) Maijn Bal, organised the press conference to clear the air and set the record straight on behalf of Bencic.
“The preparation won’t be ideal, but of course I totally understand and accept that this is the right thing to do,” the former World No. 4 announced to the media before any questions were even asked.
When it was set forth that Bencic and 71 other players and officials would be placed in quarantine, the Swiss star tweeted that "actually no we didn't [know what we signed up for], 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, while admitting her frustration with the situation, has since double backed on those statements after realising the uproar amongst Australians. “I totally understand how the people feel here with so many stranded overseas and cannot come back.”
The Flawil native does still have the opinion that “there was a little bit of miscommunication as not everyone knew this before,” but believes the hard quarantine “is the right thing to do.”
“The last thing we want is to put the virus back into Australia and for the people that suffered here and had 5 months of lockdown, I can definitely understand their concerns,” Bencic told media earnestly.
It is clear that after the initial shock of being placed in a hard quarantine, Australians and their world renowned tall poppy syndrome gave Bencic and the other ATP and WTA players a reality check.
“Us tennis players are not trying to put anyone in danger.”
When asked by the BBC if she believes the tournament should be cancelled, the 23-year-old stated that “this is the decision of the government and the tournament director so I will not comment on that.”
“I am grateful to play in the pandemic.”
Bencic announced that the communication from Australian Open Tournament Director, Craig Tiley, while in lockdown “has been great.” “Every day we have had calls from the tournament to see what we need.” Players have received fitness equipment such as spin bikes and medicine balls as well as continued support.
“The team at the Australian Open is trying really hard.”
Despite the acceptance of her current circumstances, Bencic does admit that the challenge of staying in a hotel room for 14 days and then playing tennis is a daunting task. “The priority is to not get injured…the tennis level will not be there, but we can try and do our best.”
The World No. 12 told the media that she is “trying to do the most I can,” in relation to being match ready. “We moved the furniture into the hallway and bathroom so I could simulate what it is like on court, so my muscles do not forget.”
In spite of being positive about her current situation, Bencic admits that “we need more time.” She told the media her body is highly suspectable to injury after 14 days of limited movement. Bencic has concerns for herself and the other players, stating that “this situation is far from equal… [the Australian Open] are doing the best they can do to make it equal.”
One can’t blame tennis players for being concerned about how their bodies will hold up. After 14 days of no match practice, the hard courts at Melbourne Park, as well as the harsh Australian summer, will be unforgiving.
“We have perspective on this, but we are frustrated for our own tennis, so it is like a situation where we are keeping in mind both [sides].”
Bencic will not only compete in the singles at the Australian Open this year but will also take part in doubles with defending singles champion Sofia Kenin.
“I am really excited to play with her … we can do some damage”
“I hope she still wants to play with me, and I hope she doesn’t think I have forgotten how to play,” Bencic laughed.