Six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker has questioned how fair it was for the 72 players forced into Australian Open lockdown to come out at play their best tennis.
The German said the players who have been confined to their rooms will be at a disadvantage going into the first major of the season.
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“When they come out of quarantine, they haven’t even been out in the fresh air, haven’t played tennis,” Becker told Eurosport.
These players have been forced into a strict 14-day lockdown, which means they are not allowed to go outside the room at all. The rest of the field, meanwhile, has been allowed a maximum of five hours to train and practice.
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Some of the more high-profile players in strict lockdown are Angelique Kerber, Kei Nishikori and Victoria Azarenka.
“No matter how many steps they’ve taken in the room, they haven’t played ball, and then they have a week to prepare for best-of-five (set) matches, at least for the men, in the hot conditions,” he added.
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“That task doesn’t really work. All the winter preparation was for naught. You have to ask yourself whether these are fair conditions for everyone. As an organiser, you have to ask yourself: is this right, is this reasonable?”
Meanwhile, some of the biggest stars in the sport – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Dominic Thiem – are in a separate bubble in Adelaide.
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Becker also defended his former ward Djokovic, who had sent a letter asking the organisers for better training conditions and food for the players in lockdown. One of his suggestions was giving them private housing, complete with a tennis court.
“The points he wrote down were absolutely right and legitimite,” the 53-year-old Becker said.
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“You get the feeling Djokovic can do whatever he wants at the moment, he just gets a lot of criticisms.
“In this case, (it was) really unjustified. He wanted to stand up for the players, just wanted to create fair conditions for everyone, but was sharply criticised.”