Stan’s coach rules out playing without practice

Stan’s coach rules out playing without practice

MELBOURNE • Players will skip the Australian Open if they are not allowed to practise during their mandatory two-week quarantine due to the risk of injury, Daniel Vallverdu, who has coached some of the biggest names on the ATP Tour, said.

Tennis Australia (TA) has been in talks with the Victoria state government over the Covid-19 protocols to be established for those arriving ahead of the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park, which is scheduled for Jan 18-31.

State officials have confirmed players will have to undergo quarantine and that the tournament will likely start one or two weeks later than scheduled.

Vallverdu, who currently works with three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, said TA had previously assured players they would be able to practise but nothing has been confirmed.

“Obviously that would be the only way that it would work for the players if they’re allowed to practise,” the 34-year-old, who has also worked with Grand Slam champions Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, said from Monaco.

“Because they wouldn’t be able to just sit in a hotel room for two weeks and then start and play five sets in a Grand Slam. It’s just impossible physically, the risk of injury is too high. The only way the players will go to Australia is if they’re fully allowed to practise during those two weeks.

“So close to the event, not being able to practise for 14 days would just be not doable for them.”

Due to border restrictions between states and varied quarantine requirements by local governments, TA also plans to move all build-up tournaments leading to the Grand Slam to Victoria, which has not reported a locally acquired case of coronavirus infection for over a month.

TA chief executive Craig Tiley said he expected to finalise the details for the Slam “very soon”, while Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula also said the government was confident the event would go ahead early next year.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE