Amid a cloud of uncertainty swirling around the start date of the year’s first Grand Slam, Swiss tennis star Belinda Bencic has virtually ruled out travelling to the Australian Open.
While there was talk of February 1 being locked as the start date for the Australian Open, there has been no official confirmation of the same as yet.
The government of Victoria, the host state, is reportedly in talks with Tennis Australia, ATP and WTA in the hope of firming up the quarantine rules for the Major.
Reports suggest that the Victorian government is holding firm against allowing players to train and practice during two-weeks of quarantine.
However, Australian media claims there’s hope that the government might eventually agree to some leeway in allowing players to train in isolation.
In a chat with German tabloid AZ, the 12-ranked Bencic said lack of clarity on tournament rules in view of the COVID-19 pandemic could prompt her to give the Australian Open a miss.
All state borders in the kangaroo country have been closed till the end of January in the wake of a Covid spike. The move, aimed at containing the spread of the virus, has only added to the worries around the event.
Quizzed when she thinks she can travel to Australia, Bencic said, “We have no idea yet. But certainly not this year.”
She said even if the tournament happens, lack of preparation in the face of strict quarantine rules, would make it tough to compete.
“If the tournament should take place, it will be extremely difficult because the preparation on site suffers,” the 23-year-old said.
There are worries that a quarantine arrangement minus the option of training could result in big names pulling out. Reports in the Australian media claimed that the players have been advised to prepare for a February 1 start date.
The players are likely to arrive in the first week of January.