Outspoken American Tennys Sandgren says it is “not feasible” to expect players who went through hard quarantine to be anywhere near their best at the Australian Open.
- Sandgren says he endured a “joke” preparation after going through a hard quarantine
- He says he was not at full fitness after being unable to train properly while in lockdown
- Sandgren lost in the first round to Australia’s Alex de Minaur
Sandgren was among the 72 tennis players who were placed under a strict hotel lockdown in Melbourne last month after being on one of the flights that included passengers who tested positive to COVID-19 after arriving in Australia.
The players were not allowed to practise on court or visit gyms, forcing them to conduct makeshift training sessions in their hotel rooms.
Sandgren, who last month publicly voiced his frustration with aspects of the quarantine arrangements in Melbourne, lost in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
He went down to the Australian men’s number one Alex de Minaur 7-5, 6-1, 6-1.
His exit from the tournament came on the same day Spain’s Paula Badosa, who tested positive to COVID-19 while in quarantine, also lost in the first round.
Sandgren said he and the other players who went through hard quarantine did not have enough time to regain the fitness they lost while being unable to train outside of their hotel rooms.
“I’ve never walked onto a court in a grand slam [tournament] knowing that I’m probably not going to be able to win,” Sandgren told a media conference at Melbourne Park.
“I’m physically not in shape enough to play with my opponent. My five-set record is pretty good. When I get to a fifth set, I’m in great shape.
“And today I’m tired after an hour and 10 minutes … it’s a bit out of my control, and there’s … other players in the men’s and women’s field that are in the same boat. It’s a hefty number of people, and very good players.
Sandgren, a two-time quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park, said the hard quarantine arrangements were no way to prepare for playing the season-opening major, especially during the Australian summer.
The world number 51 said players who went through hard quarantine had to “suck it up and do the best you can”.
“How would you imagine prepping for a hot kind of muggy day, three-out-of-five sets against a player like that (de Minaur), that calibre, when you can’t play tennis? You can’t go outside? You can’t,” he said.
“It’s impossible. It’s impossible. So I played last week’s event [at Melbourne Park], which probably wasn’t a good idea.
“It wasn’t hot, it was very mild conditions, and I played two hard three-set matches and I’ve never been more sore in my life after the second round, and I took two days off because I couldn’t walk, and then I hit a couple times before today.
“It’s just kind of a joke of [a] preparation. But yeah, what are you going to do?”
Sandgren made headlines in the build-up to the Australian Open.
He received special clearance to board a charter flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne last month despite testing positive for COVID-19 in November and again in January.
He received an exemption from Australian health authorities, who had assessed his case history.
Sandgren also released a video last month, mocking Australian Open organisers when he found out he would have to stay in quarantine for an additional day.
The 29-year-old said he was entered in the men’s doubles draw in Melbourne but might withdraw if the weather was “hot and humid”.