Andy Murray has tested positive for coronavirus before his flight to Melbourne to compete at the Australian Open, putting his presence at the tournament in doubt.
Murray is isolating at home, in good health and still hopeful of travelling to Australia when it is safe and possible. There had been a small coronavirus outbreak at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.
Tennis Australia is in the midst of a large operation to transport 1,200 players and their staff across 15 separate charter flights into Melbourne and Adelaide. All the competitors must quarantine for 14 days, but they will be allowed out of their rooms after a negative test in order to train under strict conditions for five hours each day. Murray was expected to travel to Melbourne on Thursday or Friday.
The 33-year-old Scot is in contact with Tennis Australia and the tournament director, Craig Tiley, but it is unclear whether he will be able to arrive at a later date. Australia’s borders remain closed to foreign nationals and there is a weekly cap of 1,120 passengers into Victoria for residents.
Travellers will not be allowed to arrive in Australia after this week and so any decision to issue exemptions for elite tennis players would set a notable precedent at a time when Australians are still stranded abroad.
Murray has not competed in Melbourne since the tournament sent him off with a retirement ceremony in 2019 when he was on the verge of ending his career due to a hip injury. He withdrew from the final tournaments of 2020 after suffering from tendinitis in his left psoas muscle.
Murray is not the only person hoping for a later flight. Rafael Nadal’s coach, Carlos Moya, will not be accompanying the Spaniard in Australia. According to Marca, the former world No 1 had hoped to arrive at a later date but was told it was not possible. Nicolas Massu, coach of Dominic Thiem, has tested positive for the virus so Thiem will instead be accompanied by his father, Wolfgang. According to Kleine Zeitung, Wolfgang Thiem was confident that Massu would be able to travel at a later date.
The first group of flights have not been without incident. On Wednesday night, the US player Tennys Sandgren revealed he had tested positive before his flight, prompting some alarm as he live-tweeted the situation and described Tiley as a “wizard” for an apparent intervention that allowed him to board the plane.
The Australian Open later stated that the positive test was due to residual virus within Sandgren rather than him being infectious. Sandgren said he contracted Covid-19 during Thanksgiving in late November.
Meanwhile, women’s world No 16, Madison Keys, announced on Thursday that she has also tested positive for Covid-19. She has withdrawn and hopes to return to the tour in February.