Opelka defends Querrey over St Petersburg incident

Reilly Opelka threw some light on Sam Querrey's escape from St Petersburg, Russia and why he wasn't necessarily in the wrong

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Reilly Opelka has come out in support of fellow American Sam Querrey, saying the whole story about St Petersburg wasn’t out in the public domain yet but Querrey was not in the wrong.

Querrey had reportedly fled Russia in a charter plane in the early hours of the morning after he and his family tested positive for Covid-19 during the St Petersburg ATP.

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“Obviously there was an incident there (at St Petersburg), that was pretty brutal,” Opelka said in an interview with the Racquet magazine.

“That whole story didn’t come out, and it made a player look like he was in the wrong, when it was actually the opposite. The player wasn’t protected. And the rules were bent, and someone’s safety and family were at risk. And there was no protection.”

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The tournament organisers had released a statement saying Querrey did not follow protocol.

After Querrey, his wife and his young son tested positive for Coronavirus at St Petersburg, the organisers offered the family medical assistance, including a pediatrician. But they seemed unwilling to quarantine in the luxury apartments booked for players for this specific purpose.

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Without telling the organisers or the hotel reception, Querrey and his family fled the city early morning to a then undisclosed location on a private plane.

“Well, the rule book said one thing, and the authorities said another. So that’s where the confusion came about,” added Opelka.

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“The statement released on that situation completely contradicted what was in writing that we had as players. The rule was, if anyone in their camp tests positive they would quarantine in the Four Seasons Hotel, which we were staying at, which Sam was more than happy to do.

“He was 100 percent ready to follow that guideline, and he came into the country with that assumption because that was always what was in writing. Had that been in writing, had it been proposed what was going to happen, then Sam wouldn’t have brought his family.”

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The 23-year-old Opelka said that the ATP had done a great job, despite the financial setbacks during the year, to keep the Tour running and ensuring players’ safety.

“I think the ATP did a good job of keeping tennis relevant, and just fighting and clawing without much budget; they don’t have much money,” he said.

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“The things that I think they could have done a better job of, within their control—I think our execs (ATP executives) should be at every tournament in the restart. If you’re gonna ask your players to play and you’re going to put on these events, I think you gotta show up as an exec.”

After almost a six-month break due to the pandemic, the Tour had resumed in August with the Cincinnati Masters. A lot of players were miffed that none of the ATP executives apparently showed up for it.