World No.12 Belinda Bencic has been under a hard lockdown over the last week. Bencic was present on one of the three charter flights to Melbourne which carried a few passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival. As a consequence, the health authorities have allowed none of the 72 players on those three charter planes to leave their rooms.
Due to the unprecedented situation, Bencic hasn’t been able to train ahead of the 2021 Australian Open, which puts her at a tremendous disadvantage. Many players have devised ingenious ways to train inside their hotel rooms by hitting balls on the wall or doing shuttle runs down the corridors.
In a recent interview, Bencic was asked whether it will be possible to play well after the 14-day quarantine period. After the completion of the isolation period, Bencic will have just a week to prepare for the Australian Open, which starts on February 8.
The Swiss admitted it will be tough to compete at a high level and revealed she even contemplated withdrawing from the event. Bencic talked about the potential risk of injury after two weeks of inactivity and being careful about not hurting herself.
“It’s going to be very complicated. High level should not be expected. I also thought about the possibility of withdrawing from this tournament to train instead. But I finally said to myself that a match, even a lost one, was useful before attacking a Grand Slam. The most complicated thing in all of this is the risk of injury.
“The public may not realize that in order to perform at a high level, our muscles and tendons need to be conditioned. That’s why you have to be really careful not to hurt yourself (quotes translated via google),” said Bencic during the interview.
Since her debut at the Australian Open in 2014, Bencic has failed to move past the third round at Melbourne Park. Considering her unfortunate circumstances this year, Bencic will have to extract most out of the week preceding the 2021 Australian Open. Amidst the pandemic, administering a Grand Slam has become an overwhelming task for the governing body.
Over the last week, many players have raised complaints about the poor quality of food, comparing the quarantine to a prison cell and preferential treatment provided to top-ranked players.