While the top stars - Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka - are quarantining in Adelaide, the rest of the Australian Open players have been housed in Melbourne. And with 72 players being forced into strict lockdown for 14 days due to positive tests on their flights, the difference in the conditions at Adelaide and Melbourne has become a major talking point among the players.
The latest to speak out about the issue is 32-year-old doubles specialist Marcelo Demoliner.
There have been contradictory reports about the type of privileges those in Adelaide have been permitted, but a few have been more or less confirmed. The Adelaide crew are being allowed to travel with a larger support team than those in Melbourne, and they are also being accompanied by more than one staff member during practice.
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley has himself admitted that there are some perks for the players in Adelaide, putting them down to the nature of the business,
Now in an interview with Ubitennis, Marcelo Demoliner has acknowledged that some of the players came to Melbourne knowing fully well that Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and the others in Adelaide would have better conditions. But Demoliner believes that even though the top players have earned their privileges, the conditions could have been more standardized in context of the current pandemic.
“I do believe they are receiving preferential treatment, quite different from us. But this is part of the tour,” the Brazilian said.
“The top tennis players always had these extras, we are kind of used to it," he added. "We came here knowing that they would have better conditions for practicing, structure, hotels… they also have merits to have achieved all that they have to be the best players in the world. I don’t know if it’s fair, but I believe the conditions could be more similar than they are in this situation.”
Several other players are unhappy with the preferential treatment for Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and others in Adelaide
Marcelo Demoliner is not the first player to highlight the preferential conditions in Adelaide for Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem & Co. Japan’s Taro Daniel, one of those in the strict lockdown, also recently claimed that tennis has a history of providing special treatment to its top stars, which does lead to some resentment.
"People in Adelaide are being able to hit with four people on court, so there’s some resentment towards that as well," Daniel stated.
“Tennis always has these very unfair treatments towards top players and lower players, especially during Grand Slams," he added. "The court time they get to hit usually is completely different … which I think, to a certain extent, they deserve, but especially during a crisis like this it gets even bigger.”
In the midst of all this, Novak Djokovic has revealed that he wanted to quarantine in Melbourne along with the rest of the players but that his request was turned down by the authorities. Djokovic issued a statement on Wednesday after being criticized for a letter of suggestions he sent to Tiley.