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Dominic Thiem denies players are getting special treatment in Adelaide

Dominic Thiem, the US Open champion and world No 3, has denied the top players are receiving a notable advantage before the Australian Open by spending their 14-day quarantine in Adelaide, rather than Melbourne where more than 300 players are staying.

“It’s a privilege to be here in Adelaide. But it’s not that huge an advantage,” Thiem said on Thursday. “We get the same amount of practice time as the guys in Melbourne. It’s just not that busy on-site. It’s just that we are [fewer] players here. Compared to the players who are not in hard quarantine in Melbourne, we have pretty similar conditions.

“The only really bad and unlucky thing are the 72 players in the hard quarantine. For them, it’s going to be really tough to play a good ATP Cup or good tournament before the Australian Open and then a good Australian Open. They have a huge disadvantage, but that’s the risk we take when we go on to a plane nowadays.”

Thiem is one of a group of players who, according to the Tennis Australia chief executive, Craig Tiley, were flown into Adelaide because of limits on the number of people allowed to travel to Melbourne. Other big names present include Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep. This has been a point of contention for some other players, particularly those coming to terms with two weeks without practice.

While most of the elite group have kept a lower profile in Adelaide than their aggrieved colleagues elsewhere, Djokovic’s list of suggestions to Tiley on behalf of the players in Melbourne led to widespread criticism.

Asked whether he felt Djokovic received undue criticism, Thiem said: “Definitely. He received unnecessary criticism a lot in the past. This topic, I don’t really know. He tried to help the other players in Melbourne but in Australia they did a great job with corona. It almost doesn’t exist here any more so Australia wants to keep it that way.

It’s very difficult and very risky to bring 1,000 tennis-related people from all over the world.

“I can understand the health department and Tennis Australia that they are super, super careful and that they want the whole plane with the positive cases in quarantine. You have to understand that, even if it’s so unlucky for the players who were on that plane. That’s the risk that we took and we knew that. Novak only wanted to help but it’s also obvious that it got denied.”

When the group in Adelaide emerge from their 14-day modified quarantine one of their first dates will be an exhibition event played at Memorial Drive, the local tennis centre. On Thursday it was confirmed the women’s world No 1, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, will join the group, marking her first on-court appearance in 11 months. Until then, Thiem will have ample time to himself.

“It’s pretty strict,” he said. “It’s 19 hours in the room and five hours out. We’re allowed to practise two hours a day. Besides that, we get a car to the site. Food, they deliver it in front of the room and we take it. In general, they did an amazing effort to make it as good as possible.”

Meanwhile, Spain’s Paula Badosa has become the first player to test positive for Covid-19 while in Melbourne, seven days after her arrival. Badosa was one of the 72 players in hard lockdown after arriving on a contaminated flight from Abu Dhabi.

“I’m feeling unwell and have some symptoms, but I’ll try to recover as soon as possible listening to the doctors,” Badosa said. “I’ve been taken to a health hotel to self-isolate and be monitored.”

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