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'I am in the lucky group': Johanna Konta reflects on Australian Open quarantine

Johanna Konta knows she is one of the lucky ones as the end of the British No 1’s quarantine period for the Australian Open comes into sight.

Players who arrived in Australia earlier this month have been undergoing a strict two-week quarantine to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Some, including Konta, have had it easier than others as they have been allowed to go out for five hours a day to practice, but 72 others, which includes fellow Briton Heather Watson, have been locked in their hotel rooms completely following positive Covid-19 cases on flights that had taken them to the country.

Konta is on day 13 of the quarantine and is looking forward to a dose of normality. “This has definitely been a very different Australia trip so far, but the end is in sight for our quarantine period,” she told ITV’s Lorraine programme. “Hopefully once that ends we can get back to some normality.

“I am actually in the lucky group that is able to go out for five hours a day to practice, we have about two hours’ court time, an hour and a half gym time and then an hour to get food and basically get ready to come back. I have been very lucky, we have a number of players here who unfortunately have to be in hard lockdown, meaning they haven’t left their rooms for about 12 days now.

“One of them is Heather so I have been trying to check in with her but she is doing a phenomenal job in making the best of a tough situation. It is a very different experience, it is not something I have experienced before and hopefully I won’t have to do too much of this again in the future.

“Even for us lucky ones in the first five days we weren’t allowed out while things were getting sorted for us to be able to go and practice. Even those five days for me were tough so I can only imagine what Heather is feeling on day 11 or 12, whatever she is on. All credit to her.”

Despite the hardship she has gone through Konta, who has been struggling with a knee injury that blighted her 2020 campaign, is grateful for an opportunity to be able to compete. “I feel very grateful and very lucky as an athlete to perform, to work, to compete and not a lot of people can say that,” she added.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity of playing, hopefully playing in front of a crowd. We are being told there is an opportunity of us having a decent crowd, we haven’t experienced that for many months, just shy of a year, so that will be a treat.

“I am feeling really good, being in this situation of the limited amount of training and quarantine, it put things into perspective. I feel very lucky and very healthy suddenly. With my knee it is an ongoing process that I continue to manage, as an athlete you manage a lot of things with your body. Overall I am feeling good.”

Meanwhile, the former British men’s No 1, Andy Murray, has entered a Challenger tournament in Italy next month after withdrawing from the Australian Open. Murray is listed to play an indoor tournament in Biella which starts on 15 February.

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