At 11.30pm Melbourne time, 1.30pm in Italy, the match between Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz was interrupted to get the fans out of the Rod Laver Arena. Half an hour later the five-day lockdown in the state of Victoria was triggered, and there was no exception for those who had been in the stands for hours enjoying the world number one, one set ahead but not physically at their best. The screams for Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem and Djokovic will remain the last, at least until Thursday. In the state of Victoria, a five-day lockdown was declared due to 13 cases of Covid found in the Holiday Inn hotel near Tullamarine airport, belonging to the English variant. The tournament, which for the first week went smoothly (with 30 thousand daily accesses, even if limited, within the site that hosts the Australian Open), goes on until Wednesday without an audience: this is because the first Grand Slam of the season included in one of the four exceptions provided for by the provision, that for essential workers, a category which includes all those who perform service at the Australian Open. The other three exceptions for going out are purchasing essential goods, exercising within 5 kilometers of one’s residence and providing care to people in need. For the rest we must stay at home.
I will not waste words: today it hurts – said the Governor of Victoria, Daniel Andrews -. Victorians know better than anyone how deeply it hurts. But here in Australia and around the world we are facing a new kind of enemy. A smarter, faster and more contagious virus. And until we have a vaccine, we must do everything we can to keep this virus at bay. (…). This short window gives us the opportunity to kill the virus by limiting our movements and its potential spread. I know it will be difficult today. It will probably be even more difficult tomorrow. But as we have already had the courage and the conviction to win this war, we can do it again.
The director of the tournament, Craig Tiley, also spoke about the lockdown at the Australian Open – after the statement issued by the organization – The tournament will be played in a bubble-like situation. On-site presence will be limited to players, their staff and the tournament staff who cannot conduct their activities remotely. Players must observe all restrictions imposed on the general population when not inside Melbourne Park, and will be able to travel between their residence and Melbourne Park within the official transportation.
Had the match between Kyrgios and Thiem been played behind closed doors, it probably would have been another match, and certainly there would have been less spectacle: the idol of the Australian crowds, two sets ahead (the second of which closed with an ace from below), after dragging the fans behind him, gave in to the fifth to the Austrian, who keeping steady concentration managed to get over a game that – even for Kyrgios’ madness on the pitch, including a change of pitch to sip Pepsi – had gone uphill.
The tennis season will continue even after Melbourne, with every single tournament having the power to decide on the possible entry of fans: today the news that in Monte Carlo, from 10 to 18 April, will be played behind closed doors. For the Internazionali d’Italia, on the other hand, there is still the question mark, with Federtennis and Sport e Salute having prepared various access plans to the Foro Italico, with the hope of being able to have an audience albeit in a reduced form.
February 12, 2021 (change February 12, 2021 | 14:08)
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