Heather Watson joins Alexander Zverev as Aus Open comes under fire over Covid testing

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Heather Watson joins Alexander Zverev as Aus Open comes under fire over Covid testing

Players underwent mandatory testing on arrival Down Under and after five days. They are then provided with lateral flow tests which organisers want

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Players underwent mandatory testing on arrival Down Under and after five days. They are then provided with lateral flow tests which organisers want them to take on a daily basis.

Olympic champion Zverev complained about the lack of compulsory testing in Melbourne after his second round win.

Watson spent two weeks in hard lockdown in her hotel room before the Australian Open last year.

But after her second round defeat today, the British No.2 said she had not taken a test since her last tournament.

She lost in the first round of the Adelaide International 1 to Tamara Zidansek – the Slovene who also beat her 7-6 6-4 today – on January 11.

Asked about testing at the Australian Open, Watson said: “Personally, I haven’t really thought too much about it because it’s felt more like normal life getting back on track.

“Very different to last year in my experience. Actually I had a lot of stress coming into this year that that could happen again. I genuinely haven’t thought about it too much.

“I haven’t tested since Adelaide personally, no. Have I been asked to? No. I think once you’ve done your day five, that’s the rules.”

Frenchman Ugo Humbert has revealed he failed a test after his first round defeat. But after beating Aussie John Millman to reach the third round, Zverev said the high rates Down Under – and no compulsory testing after day five – has led him to keep away from public places to protect his title hopes.

“I think this year in Australia there are a lot more cases than last year, simple as that,” said the world No.3. “And we are allowed to go outside to eat, allowed to do whatever we want, so I think it’s natural that more people get COVID.

“Quite a few players I think have it now. We are not getting tested, so I think if we would get tested there would be probably more positives than there are now, in a way.

“I’m here to play the tournament, and I understand that there is a lot of cases in Melbourne, there is a lot of cases in Australia all around.

“So I don’t do much outside. I haven’t been to any restaurants yet. I haven’t been out. I haven’t been anywhere but the hotel room and the courts, so I’m kind of doing a bubble for myself.”

Tournament boss Craig Tiley, who was booed when he briefly appeared at a presentation ceremony to honour Sam Stosur, insisted: “There is mandatory symptomatic testing and every single player is provided each day with an antigen kit (rapid tests)

“That’s really the program we have had going, and so far it’s worked well and been successful.”

“We came up with a set of protocols that were more rigorous than what they have normally during their week in, week out travels.

“Coming into Australia, every single player had to do a test, then between day five and seven they had to do a test.

“There is mandatory symptomatic testing and every single player is provided each day with an antigen kit. So far it has worked well.”



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